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BUSI 3312: Business Law

Tips for finding case reports etc.

Basic Information

What is a Citation?

To search for a case, the citation is:

  • volume number
  • name of book (the “case reporter”—often abbreviated)
  • first page number of the case
    • Example: 542 U.S. 1
    • Example: 124 S. Ct. 2301
    • Example: 159 L. Ed. 2d 98
  • 542 U.S. 1 is a U.S. Supreme court case.It is printed in volume 542 of United States Reports. Page 1 in the book happens to also be the firstpage of the case.

TIP: All the above citations are for the same case, but printed in different books by different publishers!

What to “Brief” – U.S. Supreme Court Case:

Written by Supreme Court employee, not judge. Has summary & holdings. Not the “Opinion.” Do not brief it.
Appears after Case Summary, Headnotes, Decision Summary, Syllabus, Counsel, Judges. Any information before Opinion (except syllabus) is written by the publisher and could be incorrect, so do not rely on it. Brief the Opinion. Do not brief the information before the Opinion.
Concurring or dissenting opinions
IF written for a case, will have the heading “CONCUR” or “DISSENT”. These are printed after the Opinion of the case, so may appear to be part of the text of the opinion. But not the Opinion. However you may want to brief.
Sometimes easier to read a case by penciling an “X” through every footnote. Then read the case. Next, go back to read the footnotes.

PDF: LexisNexis Academic

Some recent Supreme Court cases have links to PDFs!

How to Cite a Court Case

The APA style manual 6th edition includes Appendix 7.1: References to Legal Materials, pages 216 - 224.

Westfield State University has an excellent online guide to Citing Legal Materials, specifically:

Sample Basic Citations - Court Cases

(Ask your instructor if case names should be underlined or italicized.)

Citation contains:

  • Name of the case
  • Published source
  • Parenthetical indicating the court and year of decision

U.S. Supreme Court:

Meritor Sav. Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986).

Federal Court OF Appeals:

Envtl. Def. Fund v. EPA, 465 F.2d 528 (D.C. Circ. 1972).

United States v. Jardine, 364 F.3d 1200 (10th Circ. 2004).

Federal District Courts:

W. St. Group LLC v. Epro, 564 F. Supp.2d 84 (D. Mass. 2008).

Harris v. Roderick, 933 F. Supp. 977 (D. Idaho 1996).

State High Courts:

People v. Armour, 590 N.W.2d 61 (Mich. 1999).

Chaudhary v. Gen Motors Corp.,649 P.2d 224 (Cal. 1982).

Other State Courts:

Kaplan v. Ziff, 530 N.W.2d 807 (Minn. Ct. App. 1995).

Campbell v. Sellers-Morris Corp., 82 Cal.Rptr. 2d 202 (Ct. App. 1999).

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