digest

digest, n.

1. An index of legal propositions showing which cases support each proposition; a collection of summaries of reported cases, arranged by subject and subdivided by jurisdiction and court. • The chief purpose of a digest is to make the contents of reports available and to separate, from the great mass of caselaw, those cases bearing on some specific point. The American Digest System covers the decisions of all American courts of last resort, state and federal, from 1658 to present. — Abbr. D.; Dig.

“An important and numerous class of books included in the general division designated as books of secondary authority is the group known by the generic name of ‘Digests.’ A Digest is essentially an index to Cases. But it is much more than an ordinary index, for it indicates the holdings and (in some, though not all, publications) the facts of each case. Any particular digest is a summary of the case law coming within its scope, and its units are summaries of particular points of particular cases. What the syllabi of a reported case are to that case, a digest is to many cases. Were a digest simply a collection of citations to cases, arranged logically according to the contents of such cases, it would be a search book; but, being a summary of the case law, it is a book of secondary authority.” William M. Lile et al., Brief Making and the Use of Law Books 68 (3d ed. 1914).

2. Civil law. (cap.) A compilation and systematic statement of the various areas of law; chiefly, the Pandects of Justinian in 50 books, known as the Digest.

— Also termed digesta; digests. See PANDECT(2).


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