The United States Court system has three tiers:
Opinions of the United States Supreme Court are published in three different reporter series: the government issued, official reporter, United States Reports, and two unofficial, commercial reporters: West's Supreme Court Reporter and United States Reports: Lawyer's Edition.
Opinions of the United States Courts of Appeals are published in West's Federal Reporter series, and opinions of the United States District Courts are published in West's Federal Supplement.
More recent unpublished or yet-to-be-published opinions from the US appellate and district courts can be found on the websites for those courts.
Specialized courts often have their own reporter series. Examples of specialized reporters include West's Bankruptcy Reporter for bankruptcy courts and West's Military Justice Reporter for cases from U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and military courts of criminal appeals.
The official reporter of the United States Tax Courts, published by the U.S. government, is the Reports of the U.S. Tax Court (T.C). Another source for federal tax cases is U.S. Tax Cases, published by CCH, which includes federal tax cases from the district and appellate courts.
Federal cases are also accessible online.
Full annotated versions of state and federal cases can be found in the legal database Westlaw, available to students registered in the Paralegal program.
Legal database for searching cases, legislation, and secondary material. (NOTE: Access limited to current LSC paralegal students).
Full, annotated versions of state and federal cases can be found on Westlaw.
Negative Treatment = Lists all cases that have had a negative impact on the ruling of the case that you are viewing. Negative Treatment is also indicated by Flags in front of the case name.
Red flag = The case is no longer good for at least one point of law. It was reversed or overruled
Yellow flag = The case has some negative treatment but it has not been reversed or overruled
History = Displays the case's history as it moved through the courts
Citing References = Provides a list of all cases or other documents that have cited your case since it was published
Most court opinions go unpublished, with only about 20% of U.S. Court of Appeals case opinions and a minute percentage of U.S. district court opinions published. Unpublished opinions are those not accepted for publication in the reporter series, because they are either too recent or the publishers felt they were not of enough significance.
While not in reporters, these opinions may still appear in legal databases like Lexis and Westlaw or be accessible on courts' websites or through docket services.
For more information, see Spencer L. Simons, Texas Legal Research 61-64 (Revised ed. 2012).