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Case Law Research Guide   Tags: case_law, law, law_government_documents, united_states_law, us_law  

This guide contains useful information, but is no longer being updated.
Last Updated: Sep 13, 2016 URL: Print Guide

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Case Law Research Guide

The laws of the United States come in various forms.  The three main sources of the nation's laws come from the three branches of government.  These include statutes or acts passed by the legislative branch; administrative rules and regulations generated by agencies of the executive branch; and opinions, or case decisions, issued by the courts of the judicial branch.  Judicial opinions are especially significant because they apply or interpret the laws created by the legislative and executive branches.  The rulings in these opinions have binding precedent; in other words, when one court reaches a decision in a particular case, future courts in the same jurisdiction must follow that decision when considering cases with similar legal circumstances.  The original ruling has precedent until a higher court overturns it.


This research guide provides an introduction to the process of researching judicial opinions, or case law, at the federal and state (Mississippi) levels.  For further assistance, please Email a Librarian, or visit any of the Service Desks on the second floor of the Library.

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Mississippi State University Libraries

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Christine Fletcher
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Assistant Professor/Government & Historical Resources Librarian
Michell Memorial library, 2nd Floor
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