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Political Science 418: Legal Research & Writing: Finding Cases

Case Law Research

The Nexis Uni database is the primary tool for finding federal and state cases at UW-Whitewater, but some other resources also are listed below. Use the search tips on the "Using Nexis Uni" tab for keyword searching. Use options on the left of search results to search within the results, or to limit by date, court, etc. See "Legal Research: A Guide to Case Law" from the Library of Congress for additional information about case law research.

           

Federal (U.S.) Courts

About the Courts

Court Rules

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure | Federal Rules of Evidence  (Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School) | Rules of the Supreme Court of the U.S. (Supreme Court of the United States)

U.S. Supreme Court

Also available in Andersen Library's Law Collection (U.S. Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition), and in the Federal Documents Collection (U.S. Reports).
  • Nexis Uni
    Decisions since 1790, briefs since 1970. Use database main search page's "Cases" quick search or for more options, cIick "Advanced Search," then "Legal," "Cases" and finally "United States Cases."
  • Opinions (U.S. Supreme Court) since vol.502 U.S. Reports (1991:Oct.) See also the SCOTUS blog site for pending case information and links to transcripts and audio recordings of argued cases.
  • Oyez - Access to abstracts of U.S. Supreme Court cases, with digital audio of oral arguments for cases since 1955, and links to written opinions for all cases since 1891.
  • U.S. Supreme Court Collection (decisions since 1990, via Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School)
  • Google Scholar - Click "Case law" and then "Select courts" and "Supreme Court" under "Federal Courts"
  • Search U.S. Supreme Court cases since 1893, v.150 U.S. Reports (via Findlaw) or
    Browse by U.S. Reports volume | by year
     
  • Seminal Supreme Court Cases Regarding Federal Indian Law (Wisconsin Judicare's Indian Law Office)

U.S. Courts of Appeals/Circuit Courts

Federal Court Finder | map (Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts)

Also available in Andersen Library's Law Collection (Federal Reporter)

 

U.S. District Courts

Also available in Andersen Library's Law Collection (Federal Supplement)
  • Nexis Uni
    Earliest dates of cases varies. Use database main search page's "Cases" quick search, or for more options cIick "Advanced Search," then "Legal," "Cases" and finally "United States Cases."
  • Google Scholar - Click "Case law" and then "Select courts" and then specific circuit(s)/district court(s).
  • United States Courts Opinions (govinfo.gov) - Expand "District" and select a circuit court to browse (or use Advanced Search).

State Court Cases

Cases from appellate-level courts in all states are available in Nexis Uni too, as well as from most state court websites. See the Wisconsin Law webpage from the Wisconsin State Law Library for information about courts in Wisconsin.

Cases in Annotated Statutes

Annotations in statutes or codes may contain citations to court cases that have interpreted the law. Go to Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations. Click "Statutes & Annotations" or use the search box at the top right corner to go to the desired section of the statutes. Below is an example (19.35(7)(c)).

Excerpt of anotation to Wisconsin Statute

Reporters

Reporters are publications that report court cases. The different reporters report cases from particular courts, e.g., Federal Supplement reports federal district court cases. Appellate state court cases are published in "regional" reporters; each state is assigned to a particular region. There also are or have been individual state reporters. In addition, U.S. Supreme Court cases have been published in more than one reporter, e.g., the United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition (L. Ed.), Supreme Court Reporter (S. Ct.) and U.S. Reports (U.S.).

When the same case is available in more than one publication, the citations to the other publications are called parallel citations.

Briefs

Briefs filed for U.S. Supreme Court cases are available from Nexis Uni (Aug. 12, 1936- ) and FindLaw (1999-2007?). An analysis of cases and a listing of briefs filed is provided by the American Bar Association's Preview of  United States Supreme Court Cases (2004/2005 term-previous term; access to the current term requires a subscription except for one featured case each month for use in classrooms).