Free Law on the Web

One of the fantastic benefits of the Internet is that so many cases and codes are available online for free. Here are some links for you to bookmark. Why so many that overlap? They differ in coverage, ease of use, ease of searching, formatting, and so on. As you try each, you will get to know what works best for you.

One [huge] caveat: Shephardizing (or the ability to Keycite) is NOT available for free on the Web. And we can extend this warning: there are new developments in laws that can’t even be found by Shephardizing. For example, sometimes states pass laws that vitiate previously existing statutory or case law, but do not refer to the statutes or cases they are repealing. It helps to do a news search on the subject matter just to make sure!

Supreme Court Official Database

Docket
Oral Arguments
Merits Briefs
Opinions
Orders

You can find this mug on Amazon.com

While you’re reading – You can find this mug on Amazon.com

Cornell Legal Institute is a portal for just about everything you could want, including cases, statutes, U.C.C., C.F.R., Table of Popular Names (especially helpful when checking newspapers and other resources for changes in laws!) and so on. I prefer it because of its great formatting and ease of use.

Case law from Cornell

U.S. Code from Cornell

State Constitutions, Statutes and Codes from Cornell

“Core Documents” from the GPO

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FindLaw

Public Library of Law

Justia

Google Scholar Legal Documents

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Google Scholar’s court opinion coverage is limited to state appellate and supreme courts from 1950; federal district, appellate, tax and bankruptcy courts from 1923; and the U.S. Supreme Court from 1791. In a useful feature, cases are sorted by the extent to which they have been discussed in citations. See Google’s explanation here.

Also, Google Books contains many compendia of case law, some of which contain scanned transcripts of old cases you can’t find anywhere else. If you search for the specific case in Google Books, you can often flush out the relevant compendium and access the case.

FindACase

OpenJurist

Library of Congress Database for Statutes and Bills (Congress.gov was formerly known as Thomas.)

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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (unofficial editorial compilation of CFR material and Federal Register amendments kept very current)

Leagle

Includes proposed regulations
Updates for state statutes
Hot legal issue links

LegalBriefs

List of links of where to find them

Slip Laws, 1995 – Present

Statutes at Large

Statutes at Large, 1789-1875

Statutes at Large, 1951-2009

Statutes at Large, 1789 – 2007

Statutes at Large, 1789 – 1927

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Oh, you know you don’t want to root through all of that yourself! Get some help! Here is a link to free legislative histories on the Web!

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Special Focus: Native American Law

Treaties Between the U.S. and Native Americans

U.S. Statutes Concerning Native Americans

National Indian Law Library

Cornell’s database on American Indian Law

The Meaning of It All

Finally, when nothing else will do, the whole (free) Blackstone’s Commentaries, here.

Sir William Blackstone.  In 1756, he published book 1 of his Commentaries on the Law of England, continuing until the publication of Book 4 in 1759.

Sir William Blackstone. In 1756, he published book 1 of his Commentaries on the Law of England, continuing until the publication of Book 4 in 1759.

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