Accessing the Full-Text of Laws

Code Lookup

United States Code (US House):

 Use Title and section boxes.

Note: 42 USC § 5101 would be e.g. Title:  42  Section:   5101  

 

California Code  (CA Legislature):

 Select name of code from pull-down menu and type section number in box.

E.g. - CAL. FAM. CODE § 3084

Code:   FAM  Code:   3084 


Case Law Quick Lookup

FindLaw Professional

On Professional site, choose Caselaw - Supreme Court

Enter a citation

e.g.  384   US   436

Enter a party name

e.g.   Miranda  

Key Resources

WestlawVast legal research database for federal and state law. Choose Cases -or- Statutes & Court Rules

FindLaw: Use the free "Professional site" to access case law and statutes for the U.S. government and selected states. Access to Case Law may require free registration. ( more info )

California Legislative Information Official California Legislature site for bills and California codes

Beyond Lexis: Legal Research Online: Guide to excellent online legal research tools, including many free and authoritative sites

 

Full-Text of Laws available in Westlaw:

Case Law: Opinions from the US Supreme Court, US Appellate Courts (late 1800's - peresent), US District Courts (early 20th century - present), State supreme court (all 50 states)

Satutory Law: Current US Code & law codes from all 50 states

Regulations: US Code of Federal Regulations and regulatory codes from selected states


Constitutional Law

Federal: United States Constitution   info

Text online: FindLaw

Text online: United States Government Printing Office (includes official annotations)

State: California Constitution   info

Text online: State of California


Statutory Law 

Federal Statutes

Bills in the U.S. Congress (proposed, HR #, S #)  info

Text online: Thomas (from the Library of Congress, covers 101st Congress [1989] - present)

Text online: U.S. Government Printing Office (103rd Congress [1993] - present)

 

Public Laws of the United States (individual laws as passed, PL #-#)  info

Text online: U.S. Government Printing Office (1995 - present only)

United States Statutes at Large (individual laws bound together in order of passage, # Stat #)  info

Text online: Library of Congress (1795 - 1875 only)

Text: U.S. Government Printing Office (1951- 2011)

United States Code (all laws in force arranged by subject, ## USC §####info

Text online: FindLaw (best if you have a citation)

Text online: Westlaw (under Statutes  United States Code Annotated)

Text online: U.S. House of Representatives

Text online: U.S. Government Printing Office

Text online: Cornell University Law School

State Statutes

Bills proposed in the California Legislature  (AB # or SB #)  info

Text online: California Legislature (1993 - present)

California Statutes or Chaptered Bills (laws as written when passed by the legislature, AB # or SB #, Stats year ch #)  info

Text online: State of California (1993 - present)

California Codes (all California statutes in force arranged by subject, ### name of code §###)   info 

Text online: State of California

Text online: FindLaw

Text online: Westlaw (under Statutes  -  California)


Regulatory/Administrative Law

Federal

Federal Register (proposed regulations, regulations as written when passed)

Typical Citation: ## FR #####   (Example: 34 FR 10391)

Description: The text of newly proposed as well as newly adopted federal regulations (aka rules).

Process Notes: The text of new regulations proposed by federal agencies are published in the Federal Register, allowing individuals to comment on the effects of the proposed regulation. When the agency decides on the final form of the regulation, it is published as a "final rule" in the Federal Register. Final rules are later arranged by subject in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Text online: U.S. Government Printing Office (volume 59 [1994] - present)

Text online: Regulations.gov (only proposed regulations currently open for comment)

Code of Federal Regulations (all federal regulations in force arranged by subject)

Typical Citation: ### CFR §###   (Example: 34 CFR §3423 )

Description: Text of all federal regulations in force at the time of printing arranged by subject.

Process Notes: Final rules published in the Federal Register are broken into individual parts, each dealing with a different discrete subject. Each part is then put to gether with all other regulations currently in force on that specific topic. This is known as codifying the regulations, and the Code of Federal Regulations arranges all federal regulations by subject.

Text online: U.S. Government Printing Office (official version, updated annually)

Text online: FindLaw (includes forms to search by citation)

Text online: Westlaw (under Regulations)

State

California Regulatory Notice Register (proposed regulations, notice of new regulations)

Typical Citation: #### Cal. Reg. Notice Register ####   (Example: 2003 Cal. Reg. Notice Register 685)

Description: Text of newly proposed regulations and announcements of the adoption of new or revised regulations.

Process Notes: The text of new regulations proposed by state agencies are published in the Notice Register, allowing individuals to comment on the effects of the proposed regulation. When an agency adopts a new regulation, the new rule is written in the California Code of Regulations and noted in the Notice Register.

Text online: California Office of Administrative Law (2002 - present)

 

California Code of Regulations (all federal regulations in force arranged by subject)

Typical Citation: ## CCR §###   (Example: 3 CCR §432 )

Description: Text of state regulations currently in force arranged by subject.

Process Notes: State agencies writing new regulations insert them into the appropriate spot in the California Code of Regulations, which arranges all state regulations currently in force by subject.

Text online: State of California

Text online: Westlaw (under Regulations - California)


Case Law

Westlaw -  Cases

The Cases section provides searching for either all Federal or all State court opinions available in Westlaw. This should include all U.S. Supreme Court decisions, almost all relevant U.S. Appellate and District Court decisions.  State cases should include most of the decisions made by the highest court and the appellate courts in all fifty states. 

Federal Case Law

U.S. District Court Opinions

Typical Citation: plaintif v. respondent, ## F. Supp. #####   (Example: Azalea Meats v. Muscat, 246 F. Supp. 780 )

Other Citations: There are multiple series, F. Supp., F. Supp. 2d., F. Supp. 3d., etc.

Citation Notes: The citation sometimes includes an abbreviation for the specific court district and the year, e.g. (S.D. Fla. 1965).

Description: The text of rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Process Notes: Courts resolve disputes when interpretations of laws differ, or one law appears to conflict with another or with the constitution. As a general rule, state laws cannot violate federal laws, and no U.S. law can violate the U.S. Constitution.

Text online: Westlaw (Cases - Federal District Courts - all available case law from 1789 - present)

District court websites: FindLaw (selected opinions available at some sites)

 

U.S. Appellate Court Opinions

Typical Citation: ## F. #####   (Example: 22 F. 354)

Other Citations: There are multiple series: F., F. 2d., F 3d., etc.

Description: The text of rulings by each U.S. Court of Appeals.

Process Notes: Each of the regional "Court Circuits" in the United States has a court of appeals. The rulings of each of these appellate courts is legally binding only in that circuit. There are also additional appellate courts for some special areas (e.g. Armed Forces, Taxes, Patents, etc.).

Text online: Available via LexisNexis: Federal & State Cases

Text online: Westlaw (Cases - Federal Cases by Circuit - choose appropriate appellate court)

Text online: FindLaw (1995 - present, choose the appropriate appellate court)

 

U.S. Supreme Court Opinions

Typical Citation: ## US #####   (Example: 546 U.S. 189)

Other Citation style: ## L Ed. #####   (Example: 168 L. Ed. 2d 508)

Other Citation style: ## Sup. Ct. #####   (Example: 127 S. Ct. 2738 )

Description: The text of rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Process Notes: As the highest court in the nation, the Supreme Court's interpretation of law is final and cannot be changed by another court. The Supreme Court's interpretation of the U.S. Constitution (the highest law in the land) can only be changed by amending the constitution (or be a later Supreme Court re-interpreting the issue).

Text online: Westlaw (Cases - U.S. Supreme Court)

Text online: FindLaw (150 US [1983] - present)

Text online: U.S. Supreme Court (502 US [1991] - present)

State Case Law

California Superior (local) Court Opinions

Typical Citation: plaintif v. respondent   (Example: People v. Lewis and Oliver)

Description: The text of rulings by California Superior courts (e.g. local trial courts in California).

Text: Not generally available. Usually most relevant to case law if the case is appealed and the appellate courts make a ruling affecting interpretation of law.

 

California Appellate Court Opinions

Official Citation Sytle: ## Cal.App.4th #####   (Example: 39 Cal.App.4th 970)

Alternate Citational Style: ## Cal. Rptr. 3d #####   (Example: 47 Cal. Rptr. 3d 467)

Alternate Citation style: ## P.3d #####   (Example: 140 P.3d 775)

Citation Notes: Each of these citation styles add new numbers for new series: Cal Rprtr., Cal Rptr. 2d, Cal Rptr. 3d., P., P.2d, P3d., Cal.App., Cal.App.2d, Cal.App.3d, Cal.App.4th, etc.

Description: The text of rulings by each California Court of Appeals.

Text Online: FindLaw (excellent official citation finder, 1934 - present)

Text Online: Westlaw (Cases - California ,  covers 1905 - present)

 

California Supreme Court Opinions

Official Citation Style: ## Cal. 4th #####   (Example: 39 Cal. 4th 970)

Alternate Citation Style: ## Cal. Rptr. 3d #####   (Example: 47 Cal. Rptr. 3d 467)

Alternate Citation Style: ## P.3d #####   (Example: 140 P.3d 775)

Citation Notes: Each of these citation styles add new numbers for new series: Cal Rprtr., Cal Rptr. 2d, Cal Rptr. 3d., P., P.2d, P3d., Cal., Cal.2d, Cal.3d, Cal.4th, etc.

Description: The text of rulings by the California Supreme Court.

Process Notes: As the highest court in the state, the California Supreme court is usually the final interpreter of state law (although if there are issues of federal law involved, a case may be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court).

Text Online: FindLaw (excellent official citation finder, 1934 - present)

Text Online: Westlaw (Cases - California,  1850 - present)