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Finding Laws

Finding Laws

Westlaw Campus Research contains federal and state laws as well as some state administrative law.


Constitutional Law

States and the federal government have constitutions: documents which lay out the general rights and responsibilities of both the government and citizens. These documents are generally short, and the principles they contain are elaborated upon in statutory, case, and administrative law.

To find constitutional laws, go to Westlaw Campus Research then

  1. Click on the "Law" tab and then (under the search box) click on the "Table of Contents" link next to Statutes and Regulations. Check the box next to Constitution of the United States.
  2. At the bottom of the screen, click the "Search" button.
  3. Enter search terms, avoiding common words like "a," "an," "the," "to," "of," etc.
  4. Browse through the search results on the left; click on results to view the text.

 


Statutory Law

Statutory laws are created and passed by legislators. They are sometimes called codes or statutes.

To find statutory laws, go to Westlaw Campus Research then

  1. Click on the "Law" tab and then click the appropriate box under "Statutes and Regulations."
  2. Enter your search terms.
  3. Browse through the search results; click on results to view the text.

 


Case Law

Case law is based on court decisions which elaborate on existing laws. When a judge or jury decides a case which interprets a particular law in a particular way, it sets precedence.

To find court decisions (case law), go to Westlaw Campus Research then

  1. Click on the "Law" tab and then click the appropriate box under "Cases."
  2. Enter your search terms.
  3. Browse through the search results; click on results to view the text.

Note that you can also search by litigants (Kramer v. Kramer) or by citation (491 U.S. 397). See the How to Read a Citation section below for more information.



Administrative Law

Administrative law consists of agency regulations and executive orders. Most federal administrative law is contained in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Many state governments now have their administrative laws and regulations available on their official web sites.

To find administrative law, go to Westlaw Campus Research then

  1. Click on the "Law" tab and then click either "Code of Federal Regulations" or "State Administrative Codes" (and then select the appropriate state) under "Statutes and Regulations."
  2. Enter your search terms.
  3. Browse through the search results; click on results to view the text.

To find state administrative law not available in Westlaw Campus Research for North Carolina, go to NCGov.com then

  1. Click on the link on the left for "NC Agencies."
  2. Click on the name of the relevant agency.
  3. Every agency's web site is different, so look for terms such as laws, regulations, policies, etc. in the menu options.

 


How to Read a Case Law Citation

A case citation is most often made up of three parts:  a volume number, an abbreviation (for the source or the publication in which is was reported), and a page number.  (Statutes have a different citation style.) The year the case was decided may be included as a fourth part.  Case citations are interpreted as follows:

265

U.S.

274

Volume number where the case appears

Abbreviation for the title set of books reporting the case

Page number on which the case begins

Often a case will be reported in several different reporters.  These additional references are known as parallel citations.  Two examples of parallel citation are given here:

United States Supreme Court Case:

  • 491 U.S. 397
  • 109 S. Ct 2533
  • 105 L.Ed.2d 342

North Carolina Supreme Court Case:

  • 357 N.C. 469
  • 584 S.E.2d 81, 2003

The most frequently requested law reporters are listed in alphabetical order by abbreviation in the following table.  You can use the given call number to find the different reporters in the reference section of the library.  You will find the text of these titles and many more, including other regional and state reporters, are available electronically through searching Lexis-Nexis either on subject or citation.  Reporters are arranged chronologically.  Digests are similar to reporters, but are arranged by subject.

Abbreviation Reporter Title Print Call Number
A. or A.2d or Atl. or Atl2d Atlantic Reporter
(1st and 2nd Series)
N/A
F. or F2d or F3d Federal Reporter R 348.7346 W538f
F.S. or F.Supp. or F.Supp.2d Federal Supplement
(1st and 2nd Series)
R 348.7346 W538
L.Ed. or L.Ed.2d Lawyer’s Edition
(Supreme Court)
R 345.4 U58r
N.C. or N.C.2d North Carolina Reporter R 348.756 N864r
N.C. App. North Carolina Court of Appeals Reports N/A
  North Carolina Digest R 348.75602 W516nc
NCLW North Carolina Lawyer’s Weekly Current Periodicals
S.C. or S.Ct. Supreme Court Reporter R 348.734 W516

S.E. or S.E.2d

Southeastern Reporter

R 348.756 N864r

U.S.

United States Supreme Court Reports

R 345.4 U58r

USCA

United States Code Annotated

R 348.7323 U583u

USLW

United States Law Week

N/A