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The Judicial branch interprets the law whenever there is confusion or a conflict about its implementation or enforcement. Case law is found in the published, written opinions of judges, and it includes the judge’s decision and the reasoning behind it. Opinions are published in series called Reporters, which contain the text of opinions arranged chronologically. They are indexed in Digests, which may be broken down by topic and/or geography.
Looking for published court opinions (case law)? Start with Nexis Uni, WestlawNext, or HeinOnline.
These resources are also good for finding law review articles and codified laws and administrative codes.
Westlaw includes decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, US Courts of Appeals, US District Courts, state supreme courts, and state appellate courts. Also includes proprietary analysis, indexing, and citation linking.
In addition to scholarly articles and patents, Google Scholar also includes case law (U.S. Supreme Court, US Courts of Appeals, US District Courts, state supreme courts, and state appellate courts.) in its search results.
Finding additional court case information
Tip:Nexis Uni,Westlaw, and HeinOnline only include published court opinions, which means that lower level court cases (civil cases, trials) are not included. However, news sources can be particularly useful as primary sources that describe events as they unfold. The Library subscribe to a number of online sources for United States and international news.
Dates vary. More than 1500 sources worldwide, including 650 in the U.S. Largely newspapers,local news video for the U.S.; newspapers for Canada, UK and other English-speaking countries. For the rest of the world mostly wire services, BBC news digests
Thousands of full-text sources including newspapers, wires, transcripts, newsletters, magazines, trade journals; also industry news, company information, law reviews, court decisions. Coverage dates vary. Former name: Academic Universe.
Search by Subject or Topic > Federal and State Cases. Earliest brief dated August 12, 1936 through current. Includes merit briefs for cases granted certiorari and special masters, amicus curiae briefs, and joint appendices beginning in January 1979, with selected coverage from 1936. All briefs are available for cases granted certiorari beginning after the 1993-1994 term; also includes briefs petitioning for certiorari in civil cases (other thanhabeas cases) from the 1999-2000 term through current. For civil cases where cert. is denied, briefs are provided for cases on the paid docket but are not provided for cases on the In Forma Pauperis docket. No cert-stage briefs are provided for habeas cases or for criminal cases that are summarily decided or where cert. is denied.