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Legal Research FAQs: Finding a Case Citation

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This page gives tips on how to find the citation for a case when you only know the names of the parties involved in it.  Suggestions are given for federal cases, Illinois cases, and cases from other states.

Electronic and print sources are included.  Access to some of the electronic resources is limited to users who have a valid Loyola ID and password.  Access to other resources is restricted to the Law School community.  Bloomberg Law, Lexis and Westlaw require individual user IDs and passwords.

Federal Cases

West's Federal Practice Digest 5th (KF 127 .W48 2013) has an alphabetical table of all federal cases in volumes 100 to 104C, indexed both by plaintiffs' and defendants' names (this is helpful if you only have the name of one of the parties).  For older cases, you may have to use previous series.

For U.S. Supreme Court cases, you can also use West's United States Supreme Court Digest (KF 101.1 .U5).

In addition to citations, the Table of Cases also provides the Topics and Key Numbers from West's Topic and Key Number system for each case, which can be helpful if you are looking for a case that has common names (e.g. State v. Smith).

In Westlaw, you can type the party name in the main search box, but if you first click on "Cases" from the "All Content" box, then click on the "Advanced Search" link (next to the orange "Search" button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen).  You can then use the "Party Name" search field to find a case if you know the name of either party to a case (or both). You can limit your search to a specific jurisdiction first if you want to.

In Lexis, click on the "Get a Document" tab at the top of the screen, then click on the "Get by Party Name" link on the right side of the screen, then fill in the form with either party's name and the appropriate jurisdiction.

In Bloomberg Law, click on the "Search & Browse" tab, then click on "Court Opinions". You can then use the "Party Name" search field to find a case if you know the name of either party to a case (or both). You can limit your search to a specific jurisdiction first if you want to.

Illinois Cases

On May 31, 2011, the Illinois Supreme Court announced a new citation rule applicable to Illinois case law.  The new rule takes effect on July 1, 2011.  Read more about it here: http://www.state.il.us/court/media/PressRel/2011/053111.pdf.

West's Illinois Digest 2d (Call No. KFI 1257 .W41) has a complete table of cases, again by plaintiff and defendant, in volumes 52 to 59 of the set.  Citations to cases include parallel citations to state and regional reporters, as well as to Illinois Decisions.  As with the Federal Digest, entries in the Table of Cases in the Illinois Digest also provide the Topics and Key Numbers from West's Topic and Key Number system.

In Westlaw, use the "Find a Case by Party Name" search screen (from the link under the "Find a Case by Citation" box on the left side of the screen)  to find a case if you know the name of either party to a case (or both). You can limit your search to a specific jurisdiction.

In Lexis, click on the "Get a Document" tab at the top of the screen, then click on the "Get by Party Name" link on the right side of the screen, then fill in the form with either party's name and the appropriate jurisdiction.

Remaining 49 States

For cases from other states, you may want to look in the Library catalog to see if we have a print Digest which covers your state (whether it's state or regional) and check its Table of Cases.  If a Digest isn't available, it may be necessary to access the Table of Cases in the Decennial Digest (the most current complete edition is the 11th, current through 2001), going back in time in previous Decennials, and forward in the 11th General Digest until the relevant set is found (both are available on the 5th floor of the Library at Call No. KF 141).