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Legal Research: Finding Cases, Legislation, and other Legal Material

Case Law

Cases are the published opinions of courts. They are published in serial publications called reporters. Case reporters may be published by either government publishers (i.e. U.S. government) or by commercial publishers (i.e. West). If a case is printed, the print reporter must be cited, even though the case may be available in electronic formats. 

How to Read a Case Citation

To find a case in a print reporter series or to Shepardize a case, you must have a citation. The citation tells you where to find the case in the series. 

How to Read a Case Citation: First Number=Volume Number, Middle Number=Name of the reporter series including the edition, Last number=page number where the report starts

A citation will also help you find the exact document quickly when searching a legal database like Westlaw or a free online legal research site.

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