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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 Courts of Appeals

Reporters (All Unofficial)

  1. Federal Cases, West Publishing Co. (F. Cas.)

    Reported all available lower federal court decisions up to 1882.  Provides access through names of parties.
    Library: KF 105 F4 (Main Reading Room)


  2. Federal Reporter, West Publishing Co. (F. (1880 - 1924), F.2d (1924/1925 - 1993), F.3d (1993 - present))

    Reports selected decisions of the U.S. Courts of Appeal from 1880. Includes standard features of West’s reporting services.
    Library: KF 105 F41 (F.);  KF 105 F42 (F.2d and F.3d) (Main Reading Room)
    Lag time:         6 - 8 weeks


  3. Federal Appendix, West Publishing Co. (F. App’x)

    Reports unpublished opinions from 2001 forward.  Opinions are from all circuits except for the 5th and 11th, as these circuits do not provide their unpublished decisions to any publishers. Includes standard features of West’s reporting services.
    Library: KF 105 W47 (Main Reading Room)
    Lag time:         6 – 8 weeks


  4. Los Angeles Daily Journal Daily Appellate Report, L.A. Daily Journal (D.A.R.)

    Publishes full opinions of 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Cases, (along with U.S. Supreme Court Cases and California cases).  Earliest print version of these cases.  Check daily issues close to decision date, 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

Online Sources of Courts of Appeals Cases


Lexis Advance Cases > U.S. Federal (1789 - ) and individual files for the circuits 
WestlawNext:   U.S. Courts of Appeals Cases database (1891 - ); CTA-OLD (1891 - 1944); and databases for individual circuits (coverage varies by database)