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Legal Research

Fundamentals of Legal Research

Publication of court opinions

You can find cases in a variety of different places.

Print Reporters

In the olden golden days cases were only available in books called reporters.

Most states designate an official case law reporter which is published by the state government or a private publisher. The official reporter for Maine is the Atlantic Reporter, part of the West National Reporter System. The other reporter is West's Maine Reporter. Both reporters contain all published Maine Supreme Judicial Court cases. 

Online Sources

Cases are also available online from the United States and Maine's judicial branch websites, from commercial services (Westlaw, LexisNexis, Bloomberg Law, LoisLaw, Fastcase, etc.) and from free websites (Google Scholar, Findlaw, LexisONE, Legal Information Institute, court sites, etc.). Beware, some of these sources include unpublished cases that cannot be cited as precedent!

West's Reporter system

The National Reporter System is the combined case law reporter sets published by West Publishing that includes all (published) state and federal cases.


West's Federal Reporters

West publishes U.S. District Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court cases in separate reporters.

  • Federal Supplement - U.S. District Court (trial) cases

  • Federal Reporter - U.S. Courts of Appeal cases

  • Supreme Court Reporter - U.S. Supreme Court cases

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interactive Federal Reporter map


West's Regional Reporters

State cases from the 50 states and the District of Columbia are published into seven regional reporters:  Atlantic, North Eastern, North Western, Pacific, South Eastern, South Western, and Southern Pacific.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interactive Regional Reporter map


Individual State Reporters

Approximately 30 states have their own individual reporters.

West Regional and Federal Reporter Overview

Note the citation formats for reporters in the middle column below. S.Ct. is the West Supreme Court Reporter; it is not official.