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Legal Research Resources for USD Students (Non-Law): Federal Courts & Case Law
This guide is intended for academic research in legal resources by University of South Dakota graduate and undergraduate students from colleges and schools other than the School of Law. The information in this guide is not intended as legal advice.
This official website includes opinions from 1991 to the present. Under "Opinions," cases from 2009 to present term. Scroll down to "Bound Volumes" for 1991 to 2008. Under "Case Documents," one can search for dockets by number or case name. The site also includes audio and written transcripts of Court arguments.
This collection includes the Constitution, Rules of the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Reports (1754-2009), the United States Reports Slip Opinions (2002-present), and books and periodicals about the Court.
Refer to the diagram on the Courts and Case Law tab. Under Legal, choose "Landmark Cases" to browse cases by topic. Or choose "Federal and State Cases" and Advanced Options, check the box by U.S. Supreme Court, and use the box to conduct a segment search e.g. Name (party), keyword or Boolean search.
The Oyez Project site "is a multimedia archive devoted to the Supreme Court of the United States and its work. It aims to be a complete and authoritative source for all audio recorded in the Court since the installation of a recording system in October 1955." This site also provides a summary of the facts of cases, questions presented and the Court's conclusions. Links to the full text opinions are provided through Justia.
Refer to the diagram on the Courts and Case Law tab. Under Legal, choose "Federal and State Cases," and click on Advanced Options. Limit search by checking individual Circuit Courts and/or all District Courts. Use the box to conduct a segment search e.g. Name(party), keyword or Boolean search.
Choose "Case law" and click on "Select courts..." Check the box beside the courts to search. Click "Done." Enter a simple query, or conduct an Advanced Search by clicking the arrow for the drop-down box. Display results lists by relevance or reverse chronological order.
Locate United States District Court opinions by citation (Bankruptcy Reporter, Federal Reporter, and Federal Supplement 2d and 3d) and by individual district court and year.
Determining Whether A Case is Still "Good Law"
When a case has been reversed or overruled, it is considered "bad law" and should not be cited as precedent. Use "Shepard's Citations" in the LexisNexis Academic Universe database to determine whether a case remains "good law." Refer to the diagram on the Courts and Case Law tab. Select Legal and click on "Shepard's Citations." Type in the case citation. Shepard's will list other cases that have cited the case, as well as the history of the case within the court system.
For more information about updating legal resources in general and using Shepard's Citations in particular, please refer to the American Association of Law Libraries' "Public Law Toolkit - Updating"
This 54-page publication (in PDF) provides an introduction to the federal judicial system, its organization and administration, and its relationship to the legislative and executive branches of the government. Published by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in 2003.