Outlining a statute facilitates your understanding of the specific conduct that is regulated by the statute. It also provides details on how a court case resolves ambiguities and applies statutes to particular legal issues.
The first step in outlining a statute involves determining the elements, results, and exceptions of the statute in question. If the elements are linked with the word and, they must all be met to trigger the results. If elements are linked with the word or, only one of the elements must be established. If all of the elements are relevant but only some are needed, then the statute contains a factors test. A commonly known factors test is when child custody is determined by what is in the best interest of the child. The court considers factors such as: the fitness of the parent, the relationship between child and parent, living accommodations, placement of siblings, educational opportunities, religious education, etc. The result is what will happen when the elements of the statute are met. Exceptions occur when an additional element is established and the usual result does not follow.
Once you have outlined a relevant statute, you can use the LexisNexis Academic database to consult the Interpretive Notes and Decisions that follow federal statutes and the Notes section that follows state statutes. They will direct you to cases that interpret specific elements of the relevant statute.
The following are two examples of a statute and an outline of that statute:
Dog Bite Statute
If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks or injures any person who is peacefully conducting himself in any place where he may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in damages to such person for the full amount of the injury sustained.
Dog Bite Statute Outline
Escape from Prison Statute
If any person committed to prison shall break and escape there from or shall escape or leave without authority any building, camp, or place in which he is placed or directed to go or in which he is allowed to be, he shall be deemed guilty of an escape and shall be punished by imprisonment for a term not to exceed 5 years, to commence immediately upon the expiration of the term of his previous sentence.
Escape from Prison Statute Outline
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