Skip to main content
site header image

Journal Cite Checking Guide: Court Opinions and Documents

This guide is intended to assist journal members in locating print, PDF, or page image versions of cited materials for sourcing assignments.

Finding Federal Cases

Supreme Court Cases
The Law Library has print copies of all U.S. Supreme Court cases as reported in the official reporter U.S. Reports and in West's unofficial Supreme Court Reports on the 4th floor. HeinOnline's U.S. Supreme Court Library has complete coverage of the official U.S. Reports bound volumes as well as preliminary prints, slip opinions, and books and periodicals related to the U.S. Supreme Court.More recent copies of official Supreme Court opinions are also available from the Us.S. Supreme Court website (www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/boundvolumes.aspx).

Appellate and Trial Court Cases
The library has print copies of all cases included in the Federal Reporter and Federal Supplement, and all the regional reporters.  PDFs of most of these cases, except the earlier ones, are also available online via Westlaw.

Federal cases that pre-date West's federal reporters may be located through Hein Online's Early American Caselaw library.  This Library contains the entire Federal Cases 30 book series (1894-1897) which contains more than 20,000 cases. LLMC Digital also contains older federal cases.

If an author cites to an unpublished opinion from Westlaw or LexisNexis, the author should provide the appropriate, corresponding WL or LX citation. Sometimes authors forget to update their sources, so be careful to note if an unpublished opinion has subsequently been officially published.

Finding State Cases

The Library contains has copies of all West's regional reporters through 2010. One can also retrieve PDF copies of each of these opinions, and more recent ones, via WestlawNext. It is much more difficult to locate copies of state cases from an official state source recognized by the Bluebook, for states outside of Illinois.  This task usually requires an interlibrary loan request from a library in that state.  It may be worth searching WorldCat to see if any of the libraries in the area maintains state official reporters for states other than Illinois.

Recent State Cases
Many states, like Illinois, have begun to "publish" official copies of state court opinions online via state courts' websites.  It is sometimes possible, especially with more recent cases, to locate a copy of an official report that way. Take note of Bluebook requirements for citing to state cases before spending too much time trying to cite to an official source.

Older State Cases
Many libraries used to maintain a collection of official state reports that pre-dated the advent of West's regional reporter series. These collections have been digitized and are available through HeinOnline's State Reports: A Historical Archive and through LLMC digital, an archive whose function is to digitize all the old law library information formerly on microfiche.  Search by state and then by judicial and then by date. Alternatively, you can look for the name of the state reporter in the LUC Library Catalog and see if there is a link to LLMC or another case database.

Finding English Cases

Though this guide is limited to U.S. sources, very often authors will cite to old English cases as authority.  The Law Library has all the old English Reports and a good part of the collection of nominate reports in print.  HeinOnline's English Reports Library contains PDF images of the entire bound reprint edition of English Reports with an array of search tools for locating specific cases, as well as the Statutes of the Realm (1235-1713) and pre-1865 Law Reports.  LLMC Digital has digitized versions of both the English Reports and the complete set of nominative reports. These cases are often tricky to locate because of inconsistent numbering systems, so don't hesitate to seek the assistance of a reference librarian if you are having a hard time

Court Documents

The Law Library utilizes BloombergLaw's Docket feature to retrieve court documents (pleadings, orders, etc.).  Bloomberg provides a map with its coverage for each state and federal jurisdiction. This product incorporates information contained in the federal governments PACER service.  Bloomberg also includes some state court coverage, though state court pleadings are often more difficult to locate.

Subject Guide