How do I know if a case is still good law?

An overview of SmartCite's Red and Orange Flags

Valerie McConnell avatar
Written by Valerie McConnell
Updated over a week ago

You need to know whether the case you are reading is good law. That’s why we released our "SmartCite" Citator, which uses cutting-edge natural language processing and extensive human review to classify the treatment of cases. As described below, SmartCite uses red flags to indicate that a case is no longer good law and orange flags to warn you that a case may be relying on potentially bad law.

A red flag indicates a case that is no longer good law because it has been reversed, overruled, vacated, withdrawn or superseded in whole or in part. When you see a red flag, you can click on that flag to see how your case has been negatively treated on appeal. 

As shown in the example below, United States v. Halper, 490 U.S. 435 (1989) is no longer good law because the red flag indicates that it was overruled by Hudson v. United States, 522 U.S. 93 (1997):

An orange flag is used to identify a case that relies on an earlier case that was overruled or reversed after the date of your case. A case with an orange flag has not been overruled, but because it relies heavily on bad law, there is a high risk that this case may be overruled in the future. An example of a case with an orange flag is provided below. To see why your case has an orange flag, click on the flag, and you'll see the link to the overruled case cited by your case:

While Casetext makes every effort to ensure that its SmartCite flags are accurate, please note that no case citator is perfect. SmartCite is intended to help attorneys determine whether a case is good law, but it is not intended to replace an attorney's review or judgment.

Note: You will only see a flag on a case if it has received treatment, either positively or negatively. If a case has no treatment indicated, it is considered to be good law. So, no flag is good news - that means it was checked by our citator and no negative history was found.

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