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Higher Education: HE 5990

HE 5990

HE 5990:  Ethical and Legal Issues in Higher Education

Your professor has provided numerous links, on your AsULearn course site, to materials about conducting legal research. This page highlights a few resources which can be used to locate primary and secondary resources for your Legal Case Paper assignment. Please let me know if you have any questions.  Lisa Abbott,, 828-262-2009

Primary Sources

Primary sources include laws, decisions, orders, regulations issued by an entity (court or agency) or a person (governor or President).

Opinions of courts are published in reporters (official and unofficial). 

  • Databases, such as LexisNexis (LN) and Westlaw, provide indexing to and the full-text of opinions.  They also provide annotations and enhanced searching options.  Many libraries provide access to these and other legal subscription databases.
  • Google Scholar also provides the full-text of opinions and some annotations. 
  • Searching by the case name (Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka) or the case citation (347 U.S. 483) are good ways of searching. 

Is your case still "good" -  use an option in LexisNexis called Shepards (Shepardizing).  This feature can provide a history to see how often the opinion has been "followed by" other cases, if the case has been "overruled", has positive or negative treatment, and provides law review articles.

The Courts, Reporters and Citations

The Courts

Case law may be published officially and/or unofficially.  If they are published in multiple sources they have parallel citations.

Reporter examples (not exhaustive list):

  • U.S. Supreme Court  >  U.S. Reports (official) and Supreme Court Reporter (unofficial)
  • U.S. Courts of Appeals (aka Circuit Courts)   >  12 regional circuits  >  Federal Reporter Series (unofficial)    
  • U.S. District (Trial) Courts   >  94 judicial districts  >  Federal Supplement (unofficial)   

References to a court case generally contain:

  • Name of first party v. Name of second party
  • a volume number, abbreviated title/name of reporter, page number 

  Federal - Supreme Court

         Case Name:                  Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
         Official Publication:      347 U.S. 483  [vol. 347 of the U.S. Reports, pg. 483]
         Parallel Citation:           74 S.Ct. 686  [vol. 74 of the Supreme Court Reporter, pg. 686]

  Court of Appeals of North Carolina

         Case Name:                  Webb v. Nash Hospitals, Inc. [plaintiff v. defendant]
         Official court citation:   133 N.C. App. 636  [vol. 133 NC Ct of Appeals Reports, p. 636]
         Parallel citation:            516 S.E.2d 191 [vol. 516 Southeastern Reporter, 2nd, p.191]

Secondary Sources

Why look at secondary sources?  You can find a discussion/analysis of the case or topic.  You can learn vocabulary, key players, and case names.  It can save you time. 

Law review articles

Legal reference sources likes encyclopedias or dictionaries.  See below for quick links to LexisNexis search options, print materials, and other online resources.

North Carolina Sources

North Carolina General Assembly

Library of Congress, Guide to the Law Online:  North Carolina

  • the NC Constitution,
  • Executive resources -- Administrative Code, +
  • Judicial resources -- NC Supreme Court Opinions, +
  • Legislative resources -- General Statutes, +
  • Secondary sources  --  North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, +

University of North Carolina System

IMC Librarian

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