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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Researching Historical Statutes

The Law Library has a comprehensive collection of Nevada statutes and codes.  Statutes are the acts passed by the legislature and approved by the governor and are published in the Statutes of Nevada in chronological order by date approved.  Our collection of published Statutes of Nevada volumes goes back to the 1861 Territorial Legislature.  As you could imagine, researching the current law session by session would be inefficient and potentially inaccurate, so from 1873 to 1949 various compilations - also known as codes - of state law, organized by topic, were published. For additional information about these compilations, see the LCB Research Library's Legislative History Tutorial or the Legislative Counsel's Preface in volume 1 of the Nevada Revised Statutes and online (PDF).  The Law Library has print copies of all of the codes or compiled laws, as well as access to electronic versions via its subscription to HeinOnline.  

The NRS was published in 1957 and updated with replacement pages after each session until 1967 when the entire NRS was reprinted.  Complete reprints were published in 1973 and 1979 and after the 1985 session the NRS was reprinted after every session.  At the time of this writing, the current version of the NRS is the 2013 Reprint.  We expect the 2015 Reprint to be published in the next month or so.  (Updating the NRS after session and before the next reprint is published is the subject of another blog post.)

Occasionally researchers will need to know what the law was on a specific date or time period, such as the date a contract was signed, when a court entered a judgment, or when a court opinion cites a statute which has been amended or repealed.  One way to find these old statutes is to use the NRS posted on the legislature's website.  While this version does not include annotations to cases and other related sources, it does contain hyperlinks to the enacting and amending statutes from 1977 to 2013.

As an example, let's look at NRS 50.050.  Following the text of the statute, you will find a history line, sometimes known as the credit or tracing, which identifies the year and page of the Statutes of Nevada on which the section was adopted or amended by the legislature.  In this case the line reads:

      (Added to NRS by 1975, 308; A 1979, 656; 2001, 1774; 2007, 168; 2009, 2368; 2011, 233).  

On the legislature's version, you will find blue hyperlinks to the 1979, 2001, 2007, 2009, and 2011 Statutes of Nevada.  Say you want to know how that section read in 1997.  You could click on the 1979, 656 link and scroll down to section 6 which contains a redlined version indicating additions in blue italics and deletions in red brackets.  Or, you could contact the Law Library and we would locate the section in the volume containing 1975 replacement pages.  (Remember - reprints were not published after each session until 1985, so NRS 50.050 was published in the 1975 revision which was just replacement and supplementary pages.  The section was not published again in the 1977 update and the version published in the 1979 reprint contains the amendments adopted by the 1979 legislature.)  

Posted By Paula at 9:34 AM

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