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Paralegal: About Case Law

Information resources for Paralegal students and also resources on general law issues.

Case Law

There are several types of law (i.e. case law, statutes, and regulations).

This page briefly covers finding CASE LAW, which is loosely defined as law established by judicial decisions in particular cases, instead of by legislative action.

Cases are known by styles - meaning 'xyz' v '123'. Claimant v Defendant. Sometimes, you'll recognize famous cases by popular name, such as "Roe v Wade".

 

REPORTERS:

U.S. Supreme Court, Federal, and State of Texas appellate level case law is reported through "Case Reporter" series.    It takes more than one reporter series to cover all those jurisdictions.

 

Regional Reporters --

All of the U.S. states are covered through "regional" reporters.  

Geographic coverage of the regional reporters is listed below. 

  • Atlantic Reporter –Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont.
  • South Eastern Reporter  – Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia.
  • Southern Reporter  – Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi.
  • North Eastern Reporter  - Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio.
  • South Western Reporter  – Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas.
  • North Western Reporter  - Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin.
  • Pacific Reporter  – Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Hawaii, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.
  • New York and California opinions are published by West in their own series, New York Supplement and California Reporter.

State of Texas -- Thus, as part of this reporter coverage series, Texas appellate case decisions are reported in the "Southwestern Reporter" series -- which is currently in the SW 3d edition.

Federal case law is reported in series such as the "Federal Reporter" and the "Federal Supplement".

U.S. Supreme Court case law is reported in the "Supreme Court Reporter" and 'US Supreme Court Reports".

"Slip opinions" are published opinions that appear BEFORE they are included within the 'reporter' book itself. Literally printed on loose slips of paper.  These will be eventually included in their appropriate reporter and digest.

 

PRINT-  The ACC Library does not maintain a print collection of case law reporters.

WEB-  However, you will find that many case decisions are accessible through free legal resource websites.   Please visit the "Websites" page of this guide for many free websites that provide access to Supreme Court, Federal, and State level case decisions.

TEXAS-  Another couple fyi's re Texas....
In Texas, cases are initially heard by a civil or criminal trial court - which may be your local city or county jurisdiction. if you are seeking information about cases in a local jurisdiction - your best bet is to contact those court entities directly. Many of those local trial courts/jurisdictions also have websites where you can view docket and disposition information.  In Texas, only cases that go up through the appellate level are generally included within the case reporter series. 

 

DIGESTS:

Case law  that is included within Reporters, eventually ends up being included within legal DIGEST series too.

Digests are compilations of law.

A benefit is that digests often have subject access  - in case you don't know the exact case name, which can be very helpful.

A couple of example digest titles are "Decennial Digest" and "West's General Digest".

The ACC Library does not maintain a print collection of digest series.

 

WESTLAW-  Students in the ACC Paralegal program have access to key cite, and other resources through Westlaw in the Legal Research class.


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