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A tutorial and resources for Legal Research available at the Sprague Library.
Last Updated: May 28, 2015 URL: http://montclair.libguides.com/legal Print Guide RSS Updates

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Introduction

The aim of this guide is to familiarize researchers with the Legal Research
sources available in the Sprague Library.  Click on the icons to the
right to view explanatory videos for each type of resource.

If you have questions or need further assistance please contact me or speak with
the librarian on duty at the Reference Desk.

Sincerely,
William Vincenti
Introduction

Legal Style Manuals & Case Reporter Abbreviations

Dictionaries

  • Legal Dictionaries
  • Black's Law Dictionary
    One of the most widely-used legal dictionaries on the market.
    Availability:
        a. Online via Westlaw Campus. (click link above)
        b. In paper at the library's Reference Desk.
  • LexisNexis
    Provides access to several other dictionaries online:
        a. Ballentine's Law Dictionary.
        b. Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations.
        c. A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage.
        d. Modern Dictionary for the Legal Profession.
  • Law and Commercial Dictionary in Five Languages.
    Paper editon only. Two-volume set.
    English, French, German, Italian, Spanish.
    Legal Reference K54 .W47 1985
  • Attorney's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 3d.
    3d edition and supplement.
    Paper edition only.
    Ref. R121 .A4

Legal Encyclopedias

American Jurisprudence 2d and Corpus Juris Secundum are the two
most important legal encyclopedias for serious legal research in our collection.

Legal Treatises, Hornbooks and Nutshells

"Treatises, hornbooks and nutshells are secondary sources that cover specific areas of the law,"
and give readers an overview of the issues related to the topic covered.  The three kinds of book differ in the level of detail provided, with treatises being the most detailed and nutshells providing the least.
(Thanks to the librarians at the Cornell Law Library for providing such a concise description.)


Notable examples and links to the collection are listed below:

Professional Directories

Popular Name Indexes

  • Popular Name Indexes
  • Popular name indexes allow researchers to find the legal citation for a law or court decision by looking up its popular name.

          For example: Megan's Law, Clean Air Act, USA Patriot Act, etc.,

    The United States Code and the USCA both contain popular name tables for Federal statutes. For NJ laws and for the popular names of court cases use Shepard's Acts and Cases by Popular Name below.
  • Popular Names, Tables and Index. United States Code (USC).
    Shelved as the last volume in the USC.
    Legal Reference: KF 62 2000
  • Popular Name Table. United States Code Annotated (USCA).
    Shelved at the end of the USCA next to the General Index.
    Legal Reference: KF 62 1927 .W45 2 volumes.
  • Shepard's Acts and Cases by Popular Name - federal and state
    Popular names for laws and court decisions at both the state and federal level.
    Legal Reference: KF90 .S538 2010. 3 volumes.
  • Popular Names of Acts in the U.S. Code.
    A great starting point for legal research or legislative history. Many laws passed beginning in 1973 (the 93rd Congress), have links to documents in the Thomas system so that many parts of a law's legislative history can be easily found.
    Documents from Thomas include: bill numbers, sponsors, cosponsors, amendments and committee hearing documents.
  • Table of Acts Cited by Popular Name.
    Citations of laws, organized by popular name.
    More up-to-date than the tool index above, but not linked to Thomas.

Statutory Law, Federal

The sources for Federal statutory law are readily available in the Sprague Library.

The Constitution of the United States is the source of legal authority for all
Federal and state governments in the country and can be found in a wide
variety of locations. The most likely are listed below:
The edition online at the National Archives, copies at the beginning of
the U.S.C. and U.S.C.A., and online in both LexisNexis and Westlaw.

After a bill becomes a law it is first published as a slip law and then in
chronologicalorder within the United States Statutes at Large.  The
current edition of United States Statutes at Large is only available in the Legal Reference collection. 
(see below)

The United States Code and United States Code Annotated contain the statutes organized into 50 broad subject areas called titles. The relevant cases, historical notes, and cross-references that are contained in the annotations in the U.S.C.A. will make it an invaluable tool for your legal research. Paper editions of both are available in the Legal Reference collection and are online as well through Westlaw and LexisNexis. (see below)

Statutory Law, State

Administrative Law, Federal & State

Administrative Law includes items like executive orders, rules and regulations.
Executive orders have legal effect and are made by the President of the
United States and the governors of the states. Rules and regulations are
commonly created by the administrative agencies created to administer and
enforce a statute.

Case Law, Federal

Case Law, Federal
U. S. Supreme Court.
The three publications below contain the text of every decision issued by the court from 1790 to date and are arranged by the date of decision:
Primary Source
      a. United States Reports.   1966 to present.   (U.S.)
            The official publication of reports, published by the US government.
            Legal Reference:  KF101 .U52
      b. United States Supreme Court Reports.   1790-1967.   (L.Ed. | L.Ed.2d)
            Published by LexisNexis.
            Legal Reference:  KF101 .U5
      c. Supreme Court Reporter.   1987 to present.   (S.Ct.)
            Published by West.
            Legal Reference:  KF101 .A322
 
United States Supreme Court Digest.   1754 to present.
Brief commentary on every point of law covered in decisions of the court.
Organized by subject and updated with pocket parts. Published by West.
Legal Reference:  KF101.1 .U55
 
Primary Sources  (Organized Chronology)
Federal Reporter
.   1974-2000.  (parts of F.2d & F.3d are available.)
Covers opinions and decisions issued by the 13 circuits of the U.S. Courts of Appeals.
Legal Reference:  KF105 .F42

Federal Supplement 2d.   1975-2000.  (part of F.Supp.2d is available.)
Contains cases ruled upon in the U.S. District Courts.
Legal Reference:  KF105 .F432
 
West's Federal Practice Digest.   1975 to to present.  (3d and 4th)
Subject arrangement of cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, Court of Appeals,
district courts, Claims Court, bankruptcy courts, Court of Military Appeals,
the Courts of Military Review, and other federal courts.
Legal Reference:  KF105 .F432
 
American Law Reports.  (ALR, ALR 2d, ALR 3d, etc.,)
Research briefs written by attorneys about legal decisions handed down from many state and federal courts.
ALR is one of the broader secondary sources available.
Legal Reference:  ALR KF105 .A52 | ALR 2d KF105 .A53 2ND | ALR 3d KF105 .A54 3D
      ALR 4th KF105 .A55 L312 4th | ALR5th Ref. KF132 .A55 | ALR6th KF132.6 .A475
      ALR Fed. KF132.1 .A5 | ALR Index KF132.2 .A5 1999

Atlantic Reporter.   Vol 1, 1938 to Vol 748, 2000.   (Atl. and Atl.2d)
A regional case reporter that includes opinions and decisions from the courts of
CT, DE, DC, ME, MD, NH, NJ, PA, RI and VT.
Legal Reference:   KF135 .A72

Case Law, State

Case Law, State

Primary Sources  (Organized Chronologically)

New Jersey Reports
.   1948 to present.   (N.J.)

Decisions of the NJ Supreme Court listed in chronological order.
Legal Reference:  KFN1845 .A2

New Jersey Superior Court Reports.   1948 to present.   (N.J. Super.)
Decisions from the Superior Court of NJ, Appellate Division, Chancery Division,
Law Division and the County Courts are listed in chronological order.
Legal Reference:  KFN 1845 .A22

Secondary Sources  (Finding aids, organized by subject)

New Jersey Digest. (1st and 2d | Updated with pocket parts.)

Cases decided in the NJ courts, as well as all federal cases involving NJ.
Decisions are organized by subject and digests are available for every point of law covered in each.
Legal Reference:  KFN1838 .W4    (colonial times to 1954)
Legal Reference:  KFN1857 .W47   (2d: 1954 to date)

American Law Reports. (ALR, ALR 2d, ALR 3d, etc.,)
Research briefs written by attorneys about legal decisions handed down from many state and federal courts.
ALR is one of the broader secondary sources available.
Legal Reference:  ALR KF105 .A52 | ALR 2d KF105 .A53 2ND | ALR 3d KF105 .A54 3D
     ALR 4th KF105 .A55 L312 4th | ALR5th Ref. KF132 .A55 | ALR6th KF132.6 .A475
     ALR Fed. KF132.1 .A5 | ALR Index KF132.2 .A5 1999

Atlantic Reporter.   Vol 1, 1938 to Vol 748, 2000.   (Atl. and Atl.2d)
A regional case reporter that includes opinions and decisions from the courts of
CT, DE, DC, ME, MD, NH, NJ, PA, RI and VT.
Legal Reference:  KF135 .A72

Citators

Citators are tools that list what has happened to a case, statute, or regulation after it was released.
The two major online citators are Shepard's (LexisNexis) and Keycite (Westlaw).
 
Paper editions of Shepard's:
     The Sprague Library only subscribes to Shepard's New Jersey Citations in paper.
          Shepard's New Jersey Citations.
          2003 edition & Semi-Annual Cumulative Supplement (Feb 2009 to present) are available.
          Legal Reference Call number:   KFN1859 .S54
Tutorials for the Shepard's Books and Online Citators:
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