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Federal Case Law

This guide is intended to familiarize the user with the U.S. court structure, publication of federal decisions, and finding the text of federal cases. Primary sources are listed throughout this document, as well as some important Internet sites.

United States Supreme Court

  1. Slip Opinions

    Text of United States Supreme Court decisions in individual pamphlet form.  The Law Library no longer receives these in print (the last slip opinion received in print was dated April 19, 2005).
    Internet:    U.S. Supreme Court Site
    Lag time: Available the same day the decision is rendered
  2. Supreme Court Reporters - Official
    • United States Reports (U.S.):

      Text of all U.S. Supreme Court cases.  Each volume includes Table of Cases Reported and subject index for that volume.
      Library: KF 101 A32 (East Reading Room)
      Lag time: Approximately 2 years for the official print version; Print subscription discontinued
      Internet: HeinOnline Supreme Court Library (Vols. 1 - 557, 1754-2009) (UCLA only)
  3. Supreme Court Reporters - Unofficial
    • Supreme Court Reporter, West Publishing Co. (S.Ct.)

      Begins with Volume 106 (1882) of the official set (U.S. Reports).  Bound volumes include Table of Cases Reported, Words & Phrases, Statutes & Rule Tables, Table of Dispositions, and Key Number DigestAdvance Sheets include all of these, plus Cumulative Key Number Digest and Cumulative Table of Dispositions. Advance Sheets may include text of new court rules.
      Library: KF 101 A322 (East Reading Room)
      Lag time:         4 - 6 weeks
    • United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers’ Edition, LexisNexis, (L.Ed. (1 U.S. – 349 U.S.); L.Ed. 2d (350 U.S. to present))

      Appendix includes summaries of attorneys’ briefs submitted to the Court and annotations written by publishers’ editorial staff for selected important cases. Bound volumes also include Table of Cases, Table of Parallel References, Table of Statutes, Rules and Regulations Construed, annotations and index.  Same pagination for Advance Sheets and bound volumes, but Advance Sheets do not contain annotations.
      Library: KF 101 A323 (East Reading Room)
      Lag time:         6 - 8 weeks
    • United States Law Week, Bureau of National Affairs (U.S.L.W.)

      The “Supreme Court Sections” contains full-text Supreme Court opinions in loose-leaf format.  Also includes Cases Docketed, Summary of Cases Recently Filed, summaries of arguments before the Court, Table of Cases and Case Status Report, and Topical Index.
      Library: KF 175 U55 (Current and past year, Reference Reading Room; older editions on Level M)
      Lag time:         3 - 4 weeks
    • Los Angeles Daily Journal Daily Appellate Report, L.A. Daily Journal (D.A.R.)

      Publishes full opinions of U.S. Supreme Court Cases (along with 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Cases and California cases).  Earliest print version of these cases.  Check daily issues within a week of date the case was decided, as indexing is fairly slow.
      Library: Current 6 months, request at Circulation Desk;
      Older editions on microfilm in the Los Angeles Daily Journal:
      K 12 O82  (Microform Room – Level 1)
      Lag time:         1 - 4 days
  4. Online Sources of Supreme Court Cases
     Lexis Advance: Cases > U.S. Supreme Court Cases (1790 - )
     WestlawNext: Cases > U.S. Supreme Court Cases (1790 - )
     Internet: U.S. Supreme Court Site:
    Sliplist:  2009 term – present;
    Bound Volumes: (PDFs of bound volumes from 1991 to most recent available in print)
    Cornell’s Legal Information Institute (LII) (1990 – present; selected historic decisions)