Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Finding U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs

The records and briefs of U.S. Supreme Court cases can be a valuable source of information for the legal researcher. Briefs filed by the parties (and by interested amici curiae, or “friends of the Court”) outline the arguments advanced by each side of the case. Materials from the record might also provide excerpts of trial-level transcripts and documents which would otherwise be time-consuming or expensive to obtain.

In the Goodson Law Library, Supreme Court records and briefs have long been available on a microform set from 1920-present (Microforms Room, Level 1); many briefs (although not the complete records) are also provided on LexisNexis and Westlaw. Today we’re pleased to announce access to a new electronic resource which adds nearly a century of additional Supreme Court records and briefs to our collection, along with greatly improved search functionality.

U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832-1978 (http://library.duke.edu/metasearch/db/id/DUK03556) provides the full text of records and briefs for approximately 150,000 Supreme Court cases, including petitions for certiorari in cases where the Court eventually denied review (a major addition to our collection—our microform set includes those petitions only back to October Term 1985). This database is available to the entire Duke University community, who may log in from off-campus with a NetID and password.

Search the database by case name, keyword or even full text (for those trying times when you have the quotation, but lost the citation). Additional search options include docket number, U.S. Reports citation, and term years. Results are offered in high-quality page-image format, and can be downloaded for printing in batches of 50 pages at a time.

For additional resources about the Supreme Court’s decisions, history and procedures, check out the Goodson Law Library’s research guide to the U.S. Supreme Court (http://www.law.duke.edu/lib/researchguides/ussup).