MARSHALL-WYTHE LAW LIBRARY
COLLEGE OF WILLIAM AND MARY

HOW TO RESEARCH A UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT CASE IF YOU HAVE ONLY THE CASE NAME (AND NO CITATION)

A. To find the citation to the Supreme Court opinion (a citation is the abbreviation that includes a volume number, reporter, and page number).

  1. Locate the Unites States Supreme Court Digest or U.S. Supreme Court Digest (lst floor - range I-38).
  2. Look in the appropriate TABLE OF CASES volume under. the name of your parties. If you have a fairly recent case, remember to consult the pocket part supplement in the back of the volume. EXAMPLE: Roe v. Wade - look under Roe
  3. Write down the given citations. There will usually be three different citations, representing three different publications where the same case is published. EXAMPLE: Roe v. Wade, 93 SCt 705, 410 US 113, 35 LEd2d 147
  4. If you have a very recent case, it may only be published in United States Law Week (REF/KF/101/U45).
    1. Locate the notebook titled "Supreme Court - Sections."
    2. Within the notebook, locate the TAB labeled "Supreme Court: Opinions."
    3. Browse the text of the pages for the opinion of your case. The index for this publication is behind the weekly issues.
B. Locating and reading your case.
  1. The three publications in which Supreme Court cases are printed are as follows:

    Abbreviation Title Location U.S. United States Reports I-49 to I-50 S. Ct. Supreme Court Reporter I-50 L. Ed. United States Supreme Court Reports,

  2. Lawyers Edition I-50 Information included in an opinion usually includes the parties' names, the date of decision, the citations to the lower courts' opinions, the justices who participated, the attorneys who argued the case, and the opinion itself. Often concurring and dissenting opinions are printed, too.

C. Locating the lower court cases that led to the Supreme Court case.

  1. The digests mentioned above (see A. 1.) provide the citations to the lower court cases.
  2. Within the summary of the case in the beginning of the Supreme Court opinion, the citation to the previous case is usually given.
D. To find explanatory information about a Supreme Court case.
  1. The following sources located in the Reference Area may include material about selected Supreme Court cases.
    1. A Guide to American Law (12 vols.) REF/KF/156/G77 Consult Table of Cases Cited and Subject Index in volume labeled INDEX.
    2. Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court (l vol.) REF/KF/879 l/W567/1987 Consult Case Index (pp. 1033-1060)
    3. Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States (l vol.) REF/KF/8742/A35/093/1992 Consult Case Index (pp. 991-1009)
  2. Citations to journals and law review articles that discuss your case can be found using a CD-ROM called LegalTrac located in the Reference Area (last terminal on the right). This CD-ROM will provide citation information only and not the text of the article. Not all cases are covered in journal articles.
    1. Select InfoTrac: LegalTrac from the menu.
    2. Press < ENTER > until you reach screen with a blue box and the words SEARCH HEADING at the top.
    3. Type your case name and press <ENTER>.
    4. Highlight a citation and press <ENTER> You will get a list of the titles and citations of journal articles.
    5. To print a citation, press < F3 > and follow the screen instructions.
    6. Recent journals are located alphabetically by title on shelves in the Reference Area. Bound journals are shelved on the second floor and are arranged alphabetically by title.

January 1994

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