Finding U.S. Court Cases


The U.S. Constitution creates a federal system of government in which power is shared between the federal government and the state governments. Due to this shared power, both the federal government and each of the state governments has its own court system. Written decisions on court cases (opinions) are published in sets called reporters.

U.S. Supreme Court

The opinions of U.S. Supreme Court cases are initially published temporarily as individual decisions, called "slip opinions." After a few months, they are cumulated into paperback pamphlets called "advance sheets." About a year later, they are then bound into the official publication, the United States Reports. Other sets with the same cases are published more quickly by private companies, with additional notes, in two different series -- the Supreme Court Reporter and the Lawyers' Edition of the Supreme Court Reports. WTAMU faculty, staff, and students may use LexisNexis Academic or WestlawNext to find Supreme Court cases online. Patrons not affiliated with WTAMU should try the other, free resources listed below, such as the library's print set of the United States Reports.

LexisNexis Academic (WTAMU only)
Has full text of all Supreme Court cases since 1790 and selected Supreme Court briefs since 1936. Searchable by citation, case name, or full text. Use "Look Up a Legal Case" to search by citation. Path to search cases is: Search by Content Type > Federal and State Cases > Advanced Options > Federal > check box for U.S. Supreme Court. Not compatible with Mozilla Firefox.
WestlawNext (WTAMU only)
Has full text of all Supreme Court cases since 1790 and all Supreme Court briefs since 1930. Searchable by citation, case name, full text, or the West Key Number System. Path to search cases is: Federal Materials > Federal Cases > U.S. Supreme Court. Search any phrase in "quotation marks." Numerous options via Advanced Search. Click on the icon for scope of coverage for help on searching.

The Cornette Library does not receive slip opinions. Recent Supreme Court cases can be found online for free at:

Supreme Court Opinions, 1991 - present
From the Supreme Court's official website. Includes the text of all Supreme Court slip opinions until hardbound volumes are published. (Can take over 5 years for an opinion to be published in a hardbound volume.) Updated as new opinions are reached. Organized by term and then by date. The bound volumes of the United States Reports are also available from volume 502 (1991) to the present.
Supreme Court Decisions, 1990 - present
HTML text of all Supreme Court decisions from 1990 to the present. Updated as new opinions are released. May search or browse by topic or opinion author. Individual years are indexed by party name. From LII (Legal Information Institute).

Older Supreme Court cases can be found at:

Selected Historic Decisions of the Supreme Court, 1793 - 1990
631 of the Supreme Court's most important decisions. Indexes organized by topic, party name (case name), and opinion author. Also includes special subject collections: the "Amistad" case, administrative law, copyright, and patents. From LII (Legal Information Institute)
Supreme Court Decisions, 1937 - 1975 (FedWorld/FLITE)
Database of all US Supreme Court decisions from 1937 to 1975. Search by case name or keyword. Be sure to read the hints section to help format your search.
FindLaw: Cases and Codes: Supreme Court Opinions, 1893 - present
All Supreme Court decisions from 1893 (volume 150 of the United States Reports) to the present. Browsable by year or volume number. Searchable by citation, case name, or any word in full text.
United States Reports (U.S.), 1789 - present
JU 6.8: (Govt Docs)
The official reporter for cases from the United States Supreme Court. Available in print. The Cornette Library Reference Unit also has editions from private publishers: the Lawyers' Edition has cases for U.S. volumes 1-105 and West's Supreme Court Reporter edition has cases for U.S. volumes 106-298. To find the parallel citation in one of the unofficial reporters, use the table at the beginning of the volume ("Supreme Court Reporter References" in the Supreme Court Reporter and "Reference Table" in Lawyers' Edition) to transfer from the official citation to the proper page number in the unofficial volume at hand.

U.S. Court of Appeals

Texas is a part of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, along with Mississippi and Louisiana. WTAMU faculty, staff, and students may use LexisNexis Academic or WestlawNext to find Circuit Court cases online. Other patrons should try the other, free resources listed below. Older decisions can be found in the print set of the Federal Reporter.

LexisNexis Academic (WTAMU only)
Full text of all Circuit Court cases; coverage varies, begins with 1839 for the 5th Circuit. Searchable by citation, case name, or full text. Use "Look Up a Legal Case" to search by citation. Path to search cases is: Search by Content Type > Federal and State Cases > Advanced Options > Federal > check box for 5th Circuit. Not compatible with Mozilla Firefox.
WestlawNext (WTAMU only)
Full text of all Circuit Court cases since 1891. Searchable by citation, case name, full text, or the West Key Number System. Path to search 5th Circuit cases is: Federal Materials > 5th Circuit > Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Search any phrase in "quotation marks." Numerous options via Advanced Search. Click on the icon for scope of coverage for help on searching.
Findlaw: Federal Courts of Appeals
Full text of all Circuit Court cases, at least from January 1995 to the present. Can search by party name, docket number, or any word in full text. May also browse case names by date.
USCA5 Opinions
Archived decisions of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit from 1992 to the present. Searchable by title, docket number, or last date updated.
Court Links (Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts)
Map showing the regions administered by the various Circuit Courts and related federal sites. Includes links to the various Circuit Court websites.
Federal Reporter, 2nd and 3rd series (F.2d and F.3d), 1960 - 1998 (Cancelled in 1998)
KF 110 .F42 (Reference)
Contains opinions from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

U.S. District Courts

Amarillo is part of the Northern District of Texas. WTAMU faculty, staff, and students may use LexisNexis Academic or WestlawNext to find District Court cases online. Other patrons can find selected notable decisions for free online. Older decisions can be found locally in a print set of the Federal Supplement.

LexisNexis Academic (WTAMU only)
Full text of all U.S. District court cases from 1789. Searchable by citation, case name, or full text. Use "Look Up a Legal Case" to search by citation. Path to search cases is: Search by Content Type > Federal and State Cases > Advanced Options > Federal > check box for All US District Courts. Not compatible with Mozilla Firefox.
WestlawNext (WTAMU only)
Full text of all U.S. District Court cases; coverage varies, for Texas has 1849 to present. Searchable by citation, case name, full text, or the West Key Number System. Path to search cases is: Federal Materials > Federal Cases > Federal Cases by Court > Federal District Courts. Click on the icon for scope of coverage for help on searching.
United States District Court, Northern District of Texas
General information from the court; links to selected cases via FDsys (from 2005 to the present).
Federal Judiciary Homepage: Links
Links to Circuit, District, Bankruptcy, and other courts and offices of the federal judiciary. May access by clicking link to Court Websites or map.
Federal Supplement, 1st and 2nd series (F. Supp. and F. Supp. 2d)
Although print subscription cancelled, older cases available at the Potter County Law Library.
Contains reported opinions from the federal District Courts. Does not report all decisions made.

Any questions? Ask a Librarian, or call us at (806) 651-2205.