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Case Law: What is Case Law?

What Is Case Law?

U.S. courts, either federal or state, issue decisions. These decisions comprise that jurisdiction's case law. The weight of case law authority varies depending on the jurisdiction and type of case. 

Published and Unpublished Cases

The terms published and reported are often used interchangeably. Case law can be published/reported or unpublished/not reported. Many trial and appellate court decisions are not published because they lack precedential value. Whether or not attorneys can cite and rely on unpublished decisions depends on their jurisdiction and court rules.

Case Citation Resources

Reading an Opinion


Reading A Case Citation

Reading a case citation is straightforward once you know what the various numbers and letters mean. Please see below for an example.