Thursday, October 23, 2008

When Star Paging Just Won't Do

If you read court opinions on Lexis and Westlaw, the star paging feature will help you to determine where the page breaks appear in each of the parallel print reporter citations. This makes it simple to quickly generate pinpoint citations which are appropriate for Bluebook format.

Occasionally, though, legal researchers require the original page image of a particular case. Although PDFs of the National Reporter System are available on Westlaw back to 1920, locating page images of official state reporters can be more difficult. The library does own most American reporters in print, although many state reporters are housed off-site at the Library Service Center (these can be requested for delivery to the Law Library through the online catalog with a NetID and password). Fortunately, an increasing number of online sources are also providing PDFs of state cases.

As mentioned above, Westlaw offers PDFs of its regional reporters (view map) dating back to their first volumes in 1920. More recently, Lexis has joined the party by offering cases from selected Lexis-published reporters (such as California Reports) in PDF. When available on Lexis and Westlaw, PDFs will be linked at the top of the case.

For reporters not covered in Lexis or Westlaw, LLMC Digital is the logical next step. This database offers digitized case reporters from all fifty states, with an emphasis on historical volumes (although new volumes will be added as digitization continues). To view the scanned volumes for a particular set of reporters, be sure to click the red link labeled “Available Online”.

Finally, HeinOnline offers a solution for locating PDFs of executive agency decisions in its new Federal Agency Library. This collection offers complete scans of the official reporters from such executive agencies as the Securities Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Labor Relations Board, and many others.

For more information about locating legal materials in PDF, consult the library's recently-updated Research Guide.