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Legal Resources: Case Law

A guide to finding the law and information about the law.

About Case Law

Decisions of the various courts are published in volumes called Reporters. There are both official reporters (authorized by the federal or state governments) and unofficial, commercial publications covering the same decisions. This duplicate coverage gives rise to “parallel citations” when two different reporters present the results for the same court case. For example, the case of Webb v. Nash Hospitals, Inc., was reported in the North Carolinat Reports (the official publication of the N.C. Supreme Court) as
351 N.C. 122 and also in the South Eastern Reporter (a commercially published reporter covering selected cases from the southeastern U.S.) as 541 S.E.2d 471

Subject access to court cases is provided by Digests (commercial publications, such as West’s North Carolina Digest, 2d, which cover significant state and federal cases). Keyword searches lead to subject headings and topic numbers which group cases according to points of law.          

Commercial publications called Citators are used to check whether a particular decision is valid law or has been reversed or modified. Because citators are published by Shepard’s Citations, checking the validity of a case is often referred to as “shepardizing.”

Before presenting their oral arguments, counsel for both sides will submit a legal brief summarizing the facts of the case as well as the legal reasoning behind their arguments.

Case Law


Definition of Case Law

Decisions of federal and state courts at different levels (district, specialty, appellate, supreme)

Search Legal Cases - Nexis Uni

Nexis Uni

Searching Legal Cases on Nexis Uni

Court Case Example:

The format for citing court decisions is: 372 U.S. 335.

Volume #, name of reporter (abbreviated), starting page number



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Allan Scherlen
Belk Library, Office no. 224
P.O. Box 32026
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608