Legal Research

Updated 2007-11-29 23:43

Primary Authorities

Statutes & ConstitutionsFound
FederalFront of U.S. Code & Index
StateState's Statutory Code & Index
UseIndex to find statute section
ReadStatutue section & check supplements for status
U.S. Const. art. IV, § 2, cl. 3Correct citation for Constitutions


Question Answer
Statutesgo from bill to slip law to federal session laws
OfficialStatutes at Large & United States Code
Statutes at Large arrangedchronolgically and is only complete collection
United States Code arrangedby topic and only selected statutes
Abbreviation for Statutes at LargeStat.
Abbreviation for United States CodeU.S.C.
UnofficialUnited States Code Annotated & United States Code Service
United States Code Annotated arrnagedby topic
United States Code Annotated publisehd byWest & uses key numbering system
United States Code Service arrangedby topic
United States Code Service published byLawyers Co-Op & uses annotations
Statutes At Large is official publication forCongressional laws
Health Care Act, Pub. L. 92-117, 83 Stat. 624 (1987)Citation for Statutes at Large
15 U.S.C. § 7 (1988)Citation of United States Code

Administrative Rules & Regulations

Question Answer
Federal Fegister arrangedchronological
Code of Federal Regulationscodified by topic
Abbreviation for Federal RegisterFed. Reg.
Abbreviation for Code of Federal RegulationsC.F.R.

Prodecureal Rules

Question Answer
Name Procedural RulesFederal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure & Federal Rules of Evidence
Abbreviation for Federal Rules of Criminal ProcedureFed. R. Crim. P.
Abbreviation for Federal Rules of Criminal ProcedureFed. R. Civ. P.
Abbrviation for Federal Rules of Appellate ProceduerFed. R. App. P.
Abbreviatin for Federal Rules of EvidenceFed. R. Evid.
CitationFed. R. App. P. 2.


Question Answer
Cases foundin Reporter & Digest
Usedigest to find case references
Readcase in reporter & Shepardize to determine status

Supreme Court Cases

Question Answer
Supreme Court Casesgo from case to slip opinion to advance sheets
Official Reporter for Supreme Court CasesUnited States Reports
United States Reportsrequires no parallel citation
Abbreviation or United States ReportsU.S.
Unofficial Reporter for Supreme Court CasesSupreme Court Reporter & United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition
Supreme Court Reporter published byWest
Abbreviation for Supreme Court ReporterS. Ct.
United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition published byLawyer's Co-op
Abbreviation for United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' EditionL. Ed. or L. Ed. 2d
United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition containssyllabus of the court

United States Courts Of Appeal

Question Answer
Official reporter for United States Courts of AppealThere is none
Unofficial reporter for United States Courts of Appeal published byWest, selected cases only
Name United States Courts of Appeal reportersFederal Reporter, Third Series from 1993 to present, Federal Reporter Second Series from 1924 to 1993, Federal Reporter from 1880 to 1924, and Federal Cases from 1789 to 1880
Abbreviation for Federal Reporter, Third SeriesF.3d
Abbreviation for Federal Reporter, Second SeriesF.2d
Abbreviation for Federal ReporterF.
Abbreviation for Federal CasesF. Cas.
Reporters containdescriptive index

United States District Courts

Question Answer
Official Reporter for United States District CourtsThere is none
Unoffical Reporter for United States District Courts published byWest, selected cases only
Name United States District Courts ReportersFederal Supplement 1932 to present, Federal Reporter, Second Series 1924 to 1932, Federal Reporter 1880 to 1924, Federal Cases 1789 to 1880
Abbreviation for Federal SupplementsF. Supp.
Abbreviation for Federal Reporter, Second SeriesF.2d
Abbreviation for Federal ReporterF.
Abbreviation for Federal CasesF. Cas.
Federal Supplement containsFederal trial court opinions

Federal Specialty Courts

Question Answer
Federal Rules Decisioncases reltated to federal procedure rules
Bankruptcy Reporterdecisions of federal bankruptcy courts 1979
Uniform System of Citationcontains complete list of federal specialty courts/case reporters
Abbreviation for Federal Rules DecisionF.R.D.
Abbreviation for Bankruptcy ReporterB.R.
Some federal specialty courtspublish own opinions

State Case Reporters

Question Answer
National Reporter System publishedby West
National Reporter System dividedinto 7 geographical regions
National Reporter System reportsdecisions of highest appellate court within that region
Name 7 regional reportersAtlantic, Pacific, North Eastern, North Western, South Eastern, South Western, Southern

Secondary Authorities

Question Answer
Legal Encyclopedis arrangedalphabetically by subject matter
Name the Legal EncyclopediasCorpus Juris Secundum & American Jurisprudence, Second Series
Corpus Juris Secundum published byWest, uses key number system and is heavily footnoted
American Juris Prudence, Second Series published byLawyers' Co-Op and cites directly to Annotated Law Reports
Abbreviation for Corpus Juris SecundumC.J.S.
Abbreviation for American Juris Prudence, Second SeriesAm. Jur. 2d

American Law Reports

Question Answer
American Law Reports published byLawyers' Co-Op
Abbreviation for American Law ReportsA.L.R.
American Law Reports isthe leading annotated law reporter
American Law Reports comes in5 parts
Use A.L.R. Quick Index volumes thatcover A.L.R.3d & A.L.R.4th to findannotatoins on a particular topic
Check Historical Table at back of A.L.R. Quick Index todetermine if an A.L.R. series annotation has been superseded
American Law Reportsselected (significant) cases and is filled with extensive, selected annotations


Question Answer
Restatement published byAmerican Law Institute since 1923 on major legal topics
Each Restatement hasits own index
Second Restatements also containcross-references to the key numbering system (West) and to the A.L.R. series (Lawyers' Co-Op


Question Answer
Name the Law DictionariesBlack's Law Dictionary and Ballentine's Law Dictionary
Citation for DictionsariesBlack's Law Dictionary 411 (7th ed. 1992)
Dictionary citations arenot underlined or italicized


Question Answer
Treatises are calledhonbooks
Treatises aresingle volume text written by legal scholar in given topic area
Treatiees providesmore explanation than a legal encyclopedia

Locating Case Law


Question Answer
To locate Case Lawuse digest
Can you cite to a digest?No
Digests typically containa table of cases listed by both plaintiff & defendant name & a descriptive word index to help find correct topic area
Some digests containa "Words and Phrases Section"
Words and Phrases reference books are published byWest
Name the DigestsUnited States Supreme Court Digest published by West, United States Supreme Court Digest, Lawyers' Edition published by Lawyers' Co-Op, and the American Digest System published by West
American Digest System is aContinuing digest series that collects headnote summaries from all federal & State courts (combined)
Whar are the American Digest Systems seriesDecennial Digest 10-year periods & General Digest current

Updating Case Law

Question Answer
Use what to find current statuts of a caseShepard's Citations
Shepard's Citations are updated annually withbright yellow paperback volumes
Shepard's Citations are updated monthly withsmaller, red paperback advance sheets

Locating Statutes

Question Answer
To locate Statutes useGeneral Index included in volumes accompanying each statutory code(federal and state)
Statutory Indices are arrangedalphabetically by topic or subject matter
To update Statutory Law useStatutory supplements

Parallel Citations

Question Answer
Are there parallel citations for U.S. Supreme Court Casesno, cite to United States Reports only
Must you use parallel citations for in-state citations?yes


Question Answer
What is the universally accepted authority on legal citations?Uniform System of Citations

Looseleaf Services

Question Answer
Looseleaf services are published byBureau of National Affaris & Commerce Clearing House
Abbreviation for Bureau of National AffairsBNA
Abbreviation for Commerce Clearing HouseCCH
Which seconary authority is devoted to a specific topic of law?Looseleaf services
Looseleaf services compilesallrelevant primary authority
Does looseleaf services have its own topical index?yes


Question Answer
What is a scope note?it tells reseracher coverage of particular diget topic
Name Secondary AuthoritiesLegal encyclopedias, American Law Reports, Restatements, Dictionaries, Treatises, Periodicals, Digests
Name Primary Authoritiesconstitutions, statutes, case law, rules of procedure, rules of evidence, administrative rules, court rules, executive rules



Question Answer
Majority opinionopinion issed by the majority of judges of the appellate court
Concuring opinionopinion issed by one or more judges of the appellate court which agrees with the result reached by the majority but disagrees with the reasoning of the majority opinion
dissenting opinionopinion issued by one or more judges of the appealate court which disagrees with both the result and the reasoning of the majority opinion
per curiam opinionopinion of the entire court, as opposed to an opinion written by a specific judge
en bancthe entire court participates rather than the permissible quorum
memorandum opiniona very brief opinion


Question Answer
de novonew, from the beginning, as if it had never been tried before
de novo on the recordnew on the record, must base decision on the record, no new testimony
on the recordcourt reviews record for prejudicial legal errors

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