Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Statutory Interpretation in Washington

Figuring out how to interpret statutes -- and persuading courts that your interpretation is correct -- is a recurring challenge.

To help Washington legal researchers through this thicket, Prof. Helen Anderson has written Statutory Interpretation in Washington in the Feb. 2009 Washington State Bar News.

Prof. Anderson walks you through the framework used by Washington courts -- plain meaning (which the Supreme Court says can include context), common textual canons of construction (e.g., expressio unius, "to express one thing in a statute implies the exclusion of the other"), canons related to context, legislative history, and more.

This is a good time to remind you of our guide, The Legislative Process. It includes a section listing resources (both online and print) on statutory interpretation.

If you need to roll up your sleeves and do a legislative history of a Washington law, you might want to start with our guide, Washington State Legislative History.

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