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LEGAL RESEARCH GUIDE FOR AMERICAN INDIAN STUDIES (AIS) 102
Getting Started | Treaties | Statutes and Legislation | Tribal Law | Administrative | More Research | Citing Legal Materials

Finding the Full-text of Supreme Court Cases

GETTING STARTED

Finding Cases

Student researchers should first rely on secondary sources or finding tools to locate information on United States Supreme Court cases of interest to them. 

Secondary sources are not the text of the court's opinion itself, but rather are books or sources that organize the cases topically and help explain, analyze, or comment on the law. 

Finding tools include indexes or digests of the law by topic. 

These sources are a time-saver and will help the student rapidly find an interesting case and then note the name and citation (volume, reporter, and page).  Locating the volume, reporter name, and page number allows the student to know where to go to find the actual court opinion in full-text.

Palomar College Library has several good secondary sources on Indian Law, indexes, and digests of U.S. Supreme Court decisions.  Some examples are:

Locating the Text of the Case

Once the student researcher finds an United States Supreme Court case to locate, he or she should note the full name of the case and any citation strings that follow the name of the case.  United States Supreme Court cases may be published in a number of books and also may be found online at many websites.  In general, U.S. Supreme Court citations look like the following:

    California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, 480 U.S. 202, 107 S.Ct. 1083, 94 L.Ed.2d 244 (1987). 

This citation tells us the name of the case (California v. Cabazon), the year the decision was rendered (1987), and the volume, title, and page number of the text. 

Supreme Court cases are located in three separate sets of books: United States Reports (abbreviated U.S.); Supreme Court Reporter (abbreviated S.Ct.); and, United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition (abbreviated L.Ed. or L.Ed.2d).  Palomar College Library has a set of the Supreme Court Reporter located in Legal Reserves at KF101 .A322.  The case mentioned above would be found in the Supreme Court Reporter at volume 107, page 1083.  If the student only has the United States Reports volume and page number they may still locate the case using the Supreme Court Reporter as the volume numbers for the United States Reports are on the spine of all of the reporter sets.

The full-text of United States Supreme Court decisions may also be located in some alternative sources at Palomar College Library or online.  Some suggested sources are:

OTHER SOURCES OF AMERICAN INDIAN LAW

Treaties

Statutes and Legislation

Tribal Law

Administrative Rules and Opinions

MORE LEGAL RESEARCH ON THE WEB

CITING LEGAL MATERIALS IN APA STYLE

 US Supreme Court Opinion Basic form:

Name v. Name.  Vol. number U.S. Page number.  (Year).

 US Supreme Court Opinion example:

United States v. Lane, 474 U.S. 438 (1986).

 Public law (statute) basic form:

Name of Act, Pub. L. No.  Number , Section number, Volume number Stat.  Page number.

 Public law (statute) example:

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-336, 2, 104 Stat. 328 (1991).


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