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PS 215: Introduction to Law

Library Resource Guide

Off-Campus Access: If you accessing Westlaw or any other electronic library resources from off-campus with a non-NMU internet service provider (or the NMUCLC network), you will need to login to the VPN client. It is installed on NMU issued laptops, located under the Start menu, Cisco AnyConnect VPN Client. For non-NMU issued computers, you can download the client from the IT Services web site (select the appropriate version from the three options). Wimax users do not need to use the VPN client.

Many legal resources are available through the Westlaw database, which unfortunately does not allow direct linking. You must enter the database first, then go to the resource you want.


Reference & Secondary Sources


Black's Law Dictionary............................................................(link located in the top left-hand column)
..............................................................................................Also available in Reference: KF 156 .B53
Legal Thesaurus ............................................................................................Reference: KF 156 .B856
Legal Research in a Nutshell .......................................................................Reference: KF 240 .C54
The Elements of Legal Style ........................................................................Reference: KF 250 .G37
Introduction to Legal Research on WestLaw
This .pdf guide contains helpful information about searching Westlaw.

American Jurisprudence 2d
A comprehensive, 141 volume legal encyclopedia summarizing legal principles of state and federal law (written for lawyers). Provides citations to leading cases, statutes, regulations, and journal/law review articles.

Michigan Law and Practice Encyclopedia
A 26 volume encyclopedia for Michigan law, this is the Michigan equivalent of Corpus Juris Secundum. Located in the Olson Library Reference collection, 2rd floor: Ref. KFM 4265 .M5

American Law Reports
Attorney-written articles that cite, summarize, and analyze case law on a particular legal issue.

Legal Periodicals
Westlaw provides access to over 800 full-text legal journals and law reviews.

Library Catalog
Use the library catalog to locate books on various legal topics.  Also used to determine if the library owns a particular law journal.


STATUTES AND CODES

United State Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.)
The entire body of federal law currently in force, organized into 50 subject divisions (titles).  Includes references to court decisions and articles related to particular laws.  The United States Code (U.S.C.) is freely available from the House of Representatives and from the Government Publishing Office, but neither contains the annotated information (court decisions, articles, etc.) found in the U.S.C.A. Cornell has an online U.S.C. that is generated from the House version.

United States Statutes at Large (Stat.)
The official publication of all laws passed during a session of Congress.  Statutes are published complete and in the order they were passed. Available in the Olson Library book collection, 3rd floor: KF 50 .A2 (v.1, 8, 10-11, 13-14, 16-63, 70-present; 1789-present). Published by the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO). Available online from constitution.org.

Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated (M.C.L.A.)
The entire current law of Michigan arranged into subject divisions. Includes references to court decisions and journal articles related to particular laws.  The Michigan Compiled Laws (M.C.L.) is available online from the Michigan Legislature, but does not contain the annotated information (court decisions, articles, etc.) found in the M.C.L.A.

Public and Local Acts of the Legislature
The official publication of all laws passed by the Michigan Legislature. An annual publication with laws published complete and in the order in which they were passed. Available in the Olson Library book collection, 3rd floor: KFM 4225 A2. The Public and Local Acts of the Legislature are available online from 1996 onward.


COURT CASE DECISIONS (Reporters)

Supreme Court Reporter (S.Ct.)
In addition to providing the complete decisions of the Supreme Court, including dissenting opinions, this reporter contains the headnotes of the major points of law for each case.

United States Reports (U.S.)
The complete decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, including dissenting opinions.  Does not contain headnotes. Available in the Olson Library book collection, 3rd floor: KF 101 .A3 (v.389-538 ; 1967-2005, plus scattered volumes for 1926-1966). Published by the U.S. Government Publishing Office. Available online from 1745 here; and from 1893 on here. The Supreme Court's website has volumes online from 1991 to 2006.

Federal Reporter, Third Series. (F.3d)
Federal Reporter, Second Series. (F.2d)
Contains the complete decisions of cases decided in the U.S. Court of Appeals (all circuits).

Federal Supplement (F.Supp.)
Federal Supplement, Second Series (F.Supp 2d)
Contains the complete decisions of selected cases decided in the U.S. District Courts.

Michigan Reports (Mich.)
Official publication of the decisions of the Michigan Supreme Court.  You can also search for Michigan Supreme Court cases on the Web from October 2001 to the present.

Michigan Appeals Reports (Mich.App.)
Official publication of the decisions of the Michigan Court of Appeals.  You can also search for Michigan Court of Appeals cases on the Web from August 1992 to the present.

North Western Reporter (N.W.2d)
Contains the complete decisions of the Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals.

West's Michigan Digest (found in Westlaw)
Westlaw's KeySearch System Indexes Michigan court cases and Federal cases arising in or appealed from Michigan. Click on the "Go" button under their KeySearch, select your topic, then Michigan.


CITATORS
Citators provide access to the judicial history and interpretations of reported court cases, and verify the current status of each case. Also used to locate cases that are related to a known case.

Within Westlaw is their KeyCite system. This coded system provides an indication of the status of the law:

A red flag indicates:

  • in cases and administrative decisions, the case or administrative decision is no longer good law for at least one of the points of law it contains.
  • in statutes and regulations, the statute or regulation has been amended by a recent session law or rule, repealed, superseded, or held unconstitutional or preempted in whole or in part.
  • in patents, a court has held all or part of the patent invalid or invalid and not infringed; unenforceable due to the patentee's inequitable conduct; or has recognized the patent was held invalid or both invalid and not infringed in another case.

A yellow flag indicates that:

  • in cases and administrative decisions, the case or administrative decision has some negative history but has not been reversed or overruled.
  • in statutes and regulations, the statute has been renumbered or transferred by a recent session law; that an uncodified session law or proposed legislation affecting the statute is available (statutes merely referenced, i.e., mentioned, are not marked with a yellow flag); that a notice or proposed rule affecting the regulation is available; that the statute or regulation was limited on constitutional or preemption grounds or its validity was otherwise called into doubt; or that a prior version of the statute or regulation received negative treatment from a court.
  • in patents, a court has held the patent was not infringed but did not rule on its validity; held all or part of the patent valid and not infringed; or recognized the patent was held not infringed in another case.

A blue H indicates that:

  • in cases and administrative decisions, the case or administrative decision has some history.
  • in patents, a court has construed the meaning of terms within the patent; held the patent was infringed; held all or part of the patent valid; or held all or part of the patent valid and infringed.

A green C indicates that:

  • in cases and administrative decisions, the case or administrative decision has citing references but no direct history or negative citing references.
  • in statutes and regulations, the statute or regulation has citing references but no applicable history.
  • in patents, the patent has citing references but no applicable history.

Citations and Abbreviations

The basic citation form for any legal reference you may find is: 48 US 660

48
U.S. 
660
volume number
source
page number


In general, abbreviations for law materials found in Olson Library are listed below. Click on an abbreviation to locate the holdings of that particular source.  For abbreviations not listed below, see:

The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation ...Reference Collection, 2nd floor: KF 245 .U58

Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Citations .................Reference Collection, 2nd floor: KF 246 P73

F.2d Federal Reporter, Second Series KF 105 F42
F.3d Federal Reporter, Third Series KF 105 F42
F.Supp. Federal Supplement KF 105 F45
M.C.L. Michigan Compiled Laws Ref KFM 4230 1979 A23
MCLA Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated Ref KFM 4230 1948 A44
Mich. Michigan Reports KFM 4245 M5
Mich.App. Michigan Appeals Reports KFM 4248 A2
N.W.2d North Western Reporter, Second Series KFM 4245 M52
S.Ct. Supreme Court Reporter KF 101 S9
Stat. U.S. Statutes at Large KF 50 A2
U.S. U.S. Reports KF 101 A3
U.S.C. U.S. Code Gov Docs GP 3.22/2:197/
U.S.C.A. U.S. Code Annotated Ref KF 62 W4




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