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First-Year Student Research & Study Guide: Primary Sources: Cases, Statutes

A guide to help UC Hastings law students successfully manage their first year courses and legal research assignments.

Primary Sources: Cases, Statutes

Primary sources include court decisions, legislation, and regulations that form the basis of the legal doctrine. These are the official pronouncements of the government lawmakers. Cases and Statutes are the nuts and bolts of legal research; they will be discussed in great detail in your Legal, Writing & Research (LW&R) classes. Federal case law and statutes, California case law and statutes, and most of the research tools needed for LW&R are available on the library's 4th Floor. See the library map for details.

Case Citation:
A basic case citation will look like this:  Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 481, 85 S. Ct. 1678, 14 L. Ed. 2d 510 (1965).  This is a U.S. Supreme Court case.  The first part listed (Griswold v. Connecticut) are the parties. 381 is reporter volume number. U.S. is the abbreviation of the reporter the case is published in. In this case it is the United States Reports. 479 is the first page of the case. 481 is the specific page referred to or the pincite. 1965 is the date of the decision.
Oftentimes many reporters or publications will publish the case.  When this happens, the citation will list several parrallel citations.  This case was published in the United States Reports (U.S.), the Supreme Court Reporter (S. Ct.), and U.S. Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition Second Series(L. Ed. 2d).   

Federal Reporters:

Reporter Abbreviations
Name of Reporter
Courts(s) Covered
F., F.2d, F.3d
Federal Reporter (First, Second, Third)
United States Courts of Appeals
F. Supp., F. Supp. 2d
Federal Supplement (First, Second)
United States District Courts
F.R.D.
Federal Rules Decisions
United States District Courts
L. Ed., L. Ed. 2d
U.S. Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers’ Edition (First, Second)
United States Supreme Court
S. Ct.
Supreme Court Reporter
United States Supreme Court
U.S.
United States Reports
United States Supreme Court

California Reporters:
Reporter Abbreviations
Name of Reporter
Court(s) Covered
Cal., Cal. 2d, Cal. 3d, Cal. 4th
California Reports (First, Second, Third, Fourth)
California Supreme Court
Cal. App., Cal. App. 2d, Cal. App. 3d, Cal App. 4th
California Appellate Reports (First, Second, Third, Fourth)
California Courts of Appeal
Cal. Rptr., Cal. Rptr. 2d
California Reporter (First, Second)
California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal

Regional Reporters:
Reporter Abbreviations
Name of Reporter
Court(s) Covered
A., A.2d
Atlantic Reporter (First, Second)
CT, DC, DE, MD, NJ, NH, ME, PA, RI, VT
N.E., N.E.2d
North Eastern Reporter (First, Second)
IL, IN, MA, NY, OH
N.W., N.W.2d
North Western Reporter (First Second)
IA, MN, MI, ND, NK, SD, WI
P., P.2d, P.3d
Pacific Reporter (First, Second, Third)
AZ, AK, CA, CO, HI, ID, KS, MT, NM, NV, OK, OR, UT, WA, WY
S.E., S.E.2d
South Eastern Reporter (First, Second)
GA, NC, SC, VA, WV
So., So. 2d
Southern Reporter (First Second)
AL, FL, LA, MS
S.W., S.W.2d, S.W.3d
South Western Reporter (First, Second, Third)
AR, KY, MO, TN, TX

Statutes:
Abbreviation
Name of Source
Pub. L or P.L.
Public Law
Stat.
Statutes at Large
U.S.C.
United States Code (Official Version)
U.S.C.A.
United States Code Annotated (Published by West)
U.S.C.S.
United States Code Service (Published by LexisNexis)
C.F.R.
Code of Federal Regulations
Cal. Code Regs. Or C.C.R.
California Code of Regulations

Additional Tools: