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Court Cases

This guide, created for TSC 630, will help you locate court decisions and background material on any legal issue.  If you would like help using any of these resources, be sure to ask for help at the Public Services Desk.

All online resources in this guide are also found in the Research Databases pages unless otherwise indicated.



Getting an Overview


Corpus Juris Secundum (Carrier REF KF154 C65)

Comprehensive entries, alphabetically arranged and extensively footnoted, relate points of law pertaining to each subject. Cited as CJS.

West’s Encyclopedia of American Law (Carrier REF KF154 .W47 1998 and online)

Excellent legal resource for non-attorneys.

Corpus Juris Secundum (CJS)  (Image from publisher) West's Encyclopedia of American Law (Image from Amazon)



Finding Court Cases

LexisNexis Legal Research   [help with connectors like w/s; help with wildcards like !]

Includes full text state and federal court opinions. Before searching, be sure to select Federal & State Cases in the left-hand menu.  

United States Reports (Carrier REF KF 101 .U58)

Supreme Court opinions, arranged by date.  These cases are all included in LexisNexis Academic.

Virginia Reports (Carrier Virginia Documents, 1970-  ) (Microcard, 1790-  )

Reports of court decisions in the Supreme Court of Virginia.



Analyzing Cases and Legal Issues

Law review articles offer scholarly analyses of cases and legal issues. Legal news articles are non-scholarly, but may offer some recent facts.  Both are available through LexisNexis Academic.

LexisNexis Legal Research   [help with connectors like w/s; help with wildcards like !]

Includes full text law review and law news articles. This is the default Legal Research search. If you aren't already there, select Law Reviews in the left-hand menu.


**Important Note about Printing: Some law review articles can exceed 200 pages in length!



In-depth Reading: JMU Library Catalog

Use LEO to find books, encyclopedias, videos, government documents, etc. in the JMU Libraries’ collections. If you'd rather browse, look in Carrier Library for call numbers that begin with K on the 2nd floor and in Carrier and Rose Library Reference.  U.S. law is KF.  Virginia law is KFV.


Black's Law Dictionary (Image from Amazon)

Understanding the Language: Dictionaries

Black's Law Dictionary  (KF156 .B53)

The best general legal dictionary in publication. Current editions are in Carrier Reference and Rose Library Reference. Older editions are available to check out and found in Carrier stacks.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law

Good, online dictionary for non-lawyers.  Part of FindLaw (see Online Resources, below).






Citing Your Sources and Formatting Your Writing

The Bluebook  (REF KF246 .U5 2005)

One of two standard style guides for legal writing.

Introduction to Basic Legal Citation (

Easy-to-use primer on citing sources.  Based on both the Blue Book and the other standard style manual, the ALWD Citation Manual.

The Winning Brief: 100 Tips for Persuasive Briefing in Trial and Appellate Courts (Carrier REF KF251 .G37 2004)

Indepth advice on writing style for a legal brief.


Online Sources


FindLaw for Legal Professionals

Reputable source for finding legal resources freely available on the Internet.  


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Have a suggestion? Need Help? Ask Jennifer Keach
This page last reviewed by Jennifer Keach on 06/14/2012
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Last updated: Wednesday, August 29, 2012

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