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Judicial Branch Publications. Peggy Roebuck Jarrett, guest lecturer http://lib.law.washington.edu/ref/judbranch.html. Sources of Primary Law. Statutes passed by legislative bodies Regulations promulgated by administrative agencies Case law created by judges Constitutions. Case Law: Why.

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Judicial Branch Publications

Peggy Roebuck Jarrett, guest lecturer


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Sources of Primary Law

  • Statutes passed by legislative bodies

  • Regulations promulgated by administrative agencies

  • Case law created by judges

  • Constitutions

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Case Law: Why

  • U.S. is a common law country

  • An evolving body of doctrine

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Case Law: What

  • Primary law

  • Created by judges in the course of resolving disputes

  • The written resolution of the issues

  • The words “case,” “opinion,” and “decision” are often used interchangeably

  • Not a jury verdict

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Publication of Opinions

  • Only opinions of precedential value are published in reporters

    • Precedent allows similarly situated people to be treated the same

  • Published v. unpublished matters, not official v. unofficial

    • Some courts allow citations to unpublished opinions in briefs

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Publication of Opinions

  • United States Reports only major reporter in Federal Depository Library Program

  • Lower federal court and state appellate opinions are commercially published

  • Some states have official reporters

  • Opinions in commercial reporters are primary law

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Opinions and the Court System

  • A generic court system consists of

    • trial courts

    • intermediate appellate courts

    • the appellate court of last resort

  • Specialized courts

  • Courts of limited jurisdiction

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Opinions and the Court System

  • Where do reported cases come from?

    • State: appellate courts

    • Federal: appellate plus some trial courts

  • In a jury trial, there is nothing to “report” except a verdict

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Court Systems

  • Washington State Courts

  • Federal Courts

    • Home

    • Federal Court Locator

    • Federal Courts Finder

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Washington State Courts

  • Supreme Court

  • Court of Appeals

    • 3 divisions

  • Superior Courts

    • by county

  • Courts of Limited Jurisdiction

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The Federal Court System

  • U.S. Supreme Court

  • U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals

    • Washington State is in the 9th Circuit

  • U.S. District Courts

    • Western and Eastern District of Washington

    • Bankruptcy handled by special district courts

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Specialized Federal Courts

  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims handles claims against the federal government

  • Court of International Trade deals with international trade and customs

  • U.S. Tax Court

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

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How to Find Case Law

  • Use Internet Legal Resources to find free sites

  • Use a commercial database, such as LexisNexis Academic(UW restricted)

  • Use an annotated code

  • Use secondary sources

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How to Find Case Law

  • Update, update, update

    • Reversed or overruled opinions are not deleted from reporters or databases

    • Use Keycite or Shepard’s

  • Do not rely on Google to find case law (most of the time)

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Best Free Sites for Case Finding

  • Washington State Courts

    • LegalWa.org

  • U.S. Supreme Court

    • Official site

    • Cornell Legal Information Institute

    • GPO Access

    • FindLaw

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Other Places to Look for Cases

  • U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals and States other than Washington

    • Federal and State court websites

    • FindLaw

    • LexisOne

  • U.S. District Courts

    • Free choices are limited

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LexisNexis Academic

  • Federal: all published appellate and district court cases

  • State: all available appellate court cases

  • Shepard’s Citations

  • Finding tools: secondary sources and annotated codes

  • UW Restricted

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Court Briefs & Oral Arguments

  • Briefs are written arguments submitted to an appellate court

  • Larger law libraries may have paper or microfiche

  • Patrons may need to obtain them directly from the court clerk

  • Some briefs & oral arguments are online

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Court Briefs & Oral Arguments

  • Audio of U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments at Oyez

  • Audio of Washington State Supreme Court at TVW

  • Gallagher Law Library, Briefs & Oral Arguments

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  • Public Access to Court Electronic Records

  • Case and docket information from Federal courts

  • Fee-based

  • PACER Service Center

  • Small 2-year FDLP pilot 2008-2010

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Judicial Branch Business

  • Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

  • Federal Judicial Center

  • Judicial Conference of the U.S. Courts

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US Sentencing Commission

  • Develops guidelines for sentencing in Federal courts

  • In 2005 US Supreme Court made guidelines advisory, not mandatory

  • Hot topic: crack v. powder cocaine

  • USSC Home

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Administrative Agency Decisions

  • Most administrative agencies have a quasi-judicial function

  • Decide (adjudicate) individual cases arising from the application of their rules and regulations

  • Few agency decisions are distributed through the Federal Depository Library Program

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Administrative Agency Decisions

  • Administrative Decisions & Other Actions (UVA)

  • Washington State Administrative Decisions (Gallagher)

  • Use web and law library resources

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Gallagher Law Library

  • We are located on L1 and L2 (lower level) of William H. Gates Hall. We are open to the public!

  • Home

  • U.S. Government Publications

  • Internet Legal Resources

  • Legal Research Guides

  • Judicial Branch Publications

  • Ask A Librarian: Email Reference