Federal records are stored electronically and are accessible through the Public Access to Electronic Court Records (PACER) service on the Internet. PACER allows anyone with an account to search and locate appellate, county, and bankruptcy court information and routing slips. Create a PACER account. Each state has its own judicial system, which includes courts of first instance and appeal. The highest court in each state is often referred to as the “Supreme Court,” although there are some exceptions to this rule, for example, the New York Court of Appeals or the Maryland Court of Appeals. State courts typically hear cases involving state constitutional cases, state laws, and regulations, although state courts can usually hear cases with federal laws as well. States also generally have courts that deal with only a certain subset of legal issues, such as family law and inheritance. Federalism also plays an important role in determining the jurisdictional authority of a particular court. In fact, each county has its own binding jurisprudence. Therefore, a judgment rendered in the Ninth Circuit is not binding in the Second Circuit, but has persuasive power. However, U.S. Supreme Court decisions are binding on all federal and state courts on constitutional and federal law matters.

Define data requirements for research using the Integrated Database of Federal Supreme Court Cases (IDB), which is provided free of charge by the Federal Judicial Centre. The IDB has case data (not documents) for criminal, civil, appeal, and bankruptcy cases that can help researchers narrow down their queries. The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. Courts below the federal level include the U.S. Court of Appeals, U.S. District Courts, U.S. Court of Claims, U.S. Court of International Trade, and U.S. bankruptcy courts.

Federal courts hear cases involving matters related to the U.S. Constitution, other federal laws and regulations, and certain cases involving parties from different states or countries and numerous disputes. Case law is a law based on judicial decisions and not on laws based on constitutions, statutes or regulations. Case law concerns single disputes that are settled by the courts on the basis of the concrete facts of a case. In contrast, laws and regulations are written in an abstract manner. Information on access to advisory opinions and case documents for the United States Supreme Court is available on the Court`s website. Jurisprudence, also known as precedent or common law, is the set of previous judicial decisions that guide judges in deciding the issues before them. Depending on the relationship between the deciding court and the previous one, case law may be binding or simply convincing.

For example, a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth District is binding on all federal district courts in the Fifth District, but a California court (whether a federal court or a state court) is not strictly bound to follow the previous decision of the Fifth District. Similarly, a decision of one New York district court is not binding on another district court, but the reasoning of the original court could help the second court make its decision. Find a case before the Federal Court using Public Access to the Court`s Electronic Records (PACER) or by visiting the clerk`s office of the courthouse where the case was filed. Most records prepared prior to 1999 are kept only on paper. Access paper documents from the court where the case was filed or at one of the Federal Document Centres (RCFs). Contact the court where the case was filed for more information. All bankruptcy courts have a telephone information system, also known as a voice information system, which allows callers to obtain basic information about cases via a touch-tone telephone.

This is free and available 24 hours a day. Case law, which is also used interchangeably with the common law, refers to the set of precedents and powers established by previous court decisions on a particular subject or issue. In this sense, the case law differs from one jurisdiction to another. For example, a case in New York would not be decided with the California jurisdiction. Instead, New York courts will analyze the issue based on binding precedents. If there are no previous decisions on the matter, New York courts could review precedents from another jurisdiction, which would be more of a persuasive authority than a binding authority. Other factors, such as the age of the decision and the proximity of the facts, influence the authority of a particular case at common law. Access to the file is also possible via the publicly accessible terminals of the registry of the court where the case was brought. If court records and case files can be kept permanently, they are turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for preservation and preservation. These documents are accessible directly from NARA.

The Cases and Codes section of FindLaw contains resources and links to state and federal laws. This includes resources related to constitutions, articles, business, etc. Search for case summaries or select a jurisdiction to search for applicable law. The services listed below offer a variety of plans that help improve the search for primary legal documents, although they have fewer search features than premium legal databases. Also, although these products offer Citators, the update features are not the same as Shepards, Keycite, or BCite. Court notices are available free of charge on PACER to anyone with an account. In addition, access to court notices from many appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts is available free of charge in a searchable text format through a partnership with the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) under the E-Government Act. U.S. Supreme Court decisions are binding on all federal and state courts.

Please also see the library`s Virginia Legal Materials Research Guide for information on Virginia`s free resources. For more primary sources and articles on legal practice, see our Professional Reference Documents section. If you have any questions, please contact the PACER Service Centre at pacer@psc.uscourts.gov or (800) 676-6856. Please note that if you are requesting a fee waiver from a single court and/or for purposes other than research, please contact that court directly. Individual researchers working on defined research projects intended for scientific work can use the attached form (pdf) to apply for PACER fee waivers in several courts. In accordance with the EPO Rules on Fees, the request must be limited in scope and not intended for redistribution over the Internet or for commercial purposes. These sources limit web search to legal resources. There are many up-to-date online legal research guides, many of which have been written by librarians at universities and public law libraries. In addition to the George Mason Law Library`s research guides, other recommended sources for research guides: Please refer to the Library`s International Law Research Guide under “Other Online Resources” for additional resources. For state-level codes and regulations, visit the FindLaw.com Codes section.