Researching the Law FAQs

A: For California:

For federal laws:

A: The Court of Appeal districts have self-help manuals with sample briefs you can use to guide you. Click on the appropriate appellate district below to get more information.

In addition, four law libraries in California serve as depositories for appellate briefs. Their collection holdings vary. Please contact the libraries for information about their briefs, including years covered and format. Each library's website provides information about location, hours of service, and telephone numbers.

A: The federal court system includes the Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. Courts of Appeals, U.S. District Courts, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, U.S. Court of International Trade, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and U.S. Bankruptcy Courts.

Click for U.S. Supreme Court opinions.

The U.S. Courts of Appeals consist of 11 circuit courts in addition to the District of Columbia Circuit and the Federal Circuit. California is in the Ninth Circuit along with Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Click for information about and opinions issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. For information about the other circuits, you can go to your local public law library or use the Ask a Law Librarian service.

California is divided into four U.S. District Court jurisdictions: the Northern District, Eastern District, Central District, and Southern District. Click for opinions and other information from the Central DistrictEastern District, Northern District, and Southern District. You can also access opinions in federal courts using the Villanova University School of Law federal case locator.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Courts in California are also divided into the Northern District, Eastern District, Central District, and Southern District. Each district has information online including opinions for the bankruptcy courts. Click on the district for which you want the information.