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Basic Legal Research: A Guide

Resources and search tips for finding legal scholarship, court cases, statutes, regulations, and legislative histories.

Using Print Reporters

The text of court cases are published in books refered to as "reporters." Federal Reporters publish federal cases (district, circuit, and Supreme Court), while regional and state reporters publish state appellate cases. There are official and unofficial versions of some reporters. The official versions are published by the U.S. Government, while the unofficial versions are published by the private legal publishers West and Lawyer's Edition. The text of the cases will be the same in all versions, however the unofficial versions will contain editorial comments and interpretations of the decisions written by editors.

The West National Reporter System which covers both state and federal court cases is the primary source used for locating cases in print reporters.  

Listed below is a detailed listing of the reporters from both federal, regional and state courts.


Federal Reporters

 

Courts  Reporters Abbreviations
Supreme Court

United States Reports

United States Supreme Court Reports (Lawyer's Edition)

Supreme Court Reporter (West)

U.S.

L.Ed.


S.Ct.

Federal District Courts
West's Federal Supplement 2d. (1998-)

Federal Supplement (1931-1998)

F. Supp.2d

F.Supp

 

U.S. Circuit Courts
(Courts of Appeal)

West Federal Reporter 3d, (1988- )

Federal Reporter, 2d Series (1925-1988)

Federal Reporter (1880 -1924)

F.3d

F.2d

F.

 

Subject Reporters

 

Courts  Reporters Abbreviations

Bankruptcy

Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

Courts of Appeals for the Armed Forces

Court of Claims

Court of International Trade

Tax Court

West's Bankruptcy Reporter

West's Veterans Appeals Reporter

West's Military Justice Reporter

Federal Claims Reporter

United States Court of Internationall Trade Reports

United States Tax Courts Reports

B.R

Vet.App

M.J

Fed. cl.

Ct. Int'l trade

T.C.

 

Regional Reporters

 

NOTE: Please keep in mind that most print state court reporters are no longer up-to-date, it is best to use Lexis Nexis Academic or Westlaw Campus Research  to locate state case decisions.

States Reporters Abbreviations
Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont Atlantic Reporter
A., A.2d.
California California Reporter

Cal.Rptr., Cal. Rptr. 2d, Cal. Rptr.3d

 

New York Supplement New York Supplement

N.Y.S, N.Y.S.2d

 

Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio

 

North Eastern Reporter
N.E., N.E.2d

Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia

 

South Eastern Reporter S.E., S.E.2d

Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Missisippi,

 

Southern Reporter So.,So.2d

Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas

 

South Western Reporter S.W., S.W. 2d, S.W.3d

Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin

 

North Western Reporter N.W., N. W. 2d
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming Pacific Reporter P., P.2d, P.3d

Digests

Digests are tools that help researchers locate cases on specific legal topics or issues.  If you are using a print reporter to search for a case by topic you will need to use a digest. West Publishers provides the most comprehensive digest system. For a detailed explanation of how to use the West Digests in Print go to the following online tutorial.