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A citator is a research tool which allows the researcher to determine if a case opinion is still good law. A citator will indicate if a case has been overturned by more recent cases, if it has it been reversed on appeal and if it has been criticized, distinguished or otherwise analyzed by another court. Additionally, citators can be used for expanding your research by providing other relevant cases to the case on point and indicating secondary sources touching on the topic. Citators even expand to statutes to indicate whether a law has been amended, repealed, or found unconstitutional. In other words, citators are crucial to effectively completing the legal research process.
Shepard's is the name most associated with citators and is a Lexis product. Print versions of Shepards's do still exist but most researchers rely on the electronic version. KeyCite was introduced in 1997 as an alternative to the Shepard's citation system and Bloomberg Law has created BCite.
Each citator has its own symbols to indicate the treatment of the case and also provide information such as case history and citing references.
For more information, see:
Citators are editorial features and will often not be found with freely available resources. One freely available citator alternative can be found on Google Scholar, which provides a "how cited" tab with results.