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Case Law - What It Is & Where to Find It

Introduction

What is Case Law & Why is it Important?

Magnifying glass over a piece of text

Case Law is a primary source of law. 

Primary sources of law can also include: statutes, constitutions, rules and regulations. Case law, also known as common law, is the body of law created by judicial decisions.

Case Law is created by the Judicial Branch. Statutes and Constitutions are created by the Legislative Branch. Rules and Regulations are created by the Executive Branch.

The United States' common law judicial system adheres to the doctrine of stare decisis, which requires judges to follow the legal precedent established in previous cases. Therefore, in order to determine what the law is regarding a particular point of law, it is crucial to be able to locate previous controlling and relevant case decisions.

Key Numbers and Headnotes

Picture of set of keys

 

Key Numbers: These are unique to products published by West. They represent a specific subtopic within an area of law. They are uniform throughout all West Publications, and are therefore useful in finding primary and secondary resources on the point of law you are researching.

Headnotes: Lexis has a similar feature called Headnotes which show the key legal points of a case. These can be found at the beginning of cases and can be followed to find other cases similar to yours.

 

Have a Question? Need Help?

Chat with a Touro Law librarian and get the guidance, advice, and help you need to get your research off on the right foot.

  • Chat is available only during regular reference hours. Please check our hours here.

Email us whenever you like and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

  • If you're researching after hours, please e-mail your questions to libraryreference@tourolaw.edu

Call or text us during our regular hours.

  • Call us at 631-761-7160
  • Text us at 631-880-4004

In Person Students can speak with a librarian in person at the Gould Law Library

  • In person reference hours can be found here.

Make an appointment, whether it's a quick question or a consultation, we are here to help. Email libraryreference@tourolaw.edu to set up an appointment with one of our law librarians.

ZOOM reference is available upon request.

No matter how you get in touch with us, we’re your lifeline – we're here to support you in your studies, your research, and your preparation to practice law.

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