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Finding a Case

A guide to the various ways to find a case

Using a Digest to find cases if you know the name of one of the parties

When looking for a case by party name, one important piece of information is the jurisdiction of the court that heard the case. Knowing whether the case is a state case (and the state that heard it) or a federal case, will help you decide which Digest to use in your research.

Digests essentially serve as indices for different reporter sets. Each set of Digests has a table that lists cases by party name, called the Case Name Table. Both the plaintiff's and the defendant's names are indexed in the table, so you can search by either party.  If the case is recent, you will want to be sure to check the pocket part for the volume you are using and any cumulative supplements that are available. At Tarlton, all federal and state digests are located in Tarlton's main second floor reading room.

United States Supreme Court Digests

  • Covers all cases heard by the Supreme Court from 1754 to the present.
  • Both West and Lawyer’s Co-op publish a Supreme Court Digest.

Federal Digests

  • Cover all federal cases, from the United States District Courts through the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Federal Digest: through 1940
  • Modern Federal Practice Digest: 1940-1960
  • Federal Practice Digest 2d: 1961-November 1975
  • Federal Practice Digest 3d: 1975-(no specific cutoff date)
  • Federal Practice Digest 4th: Supplements Federal Practice Digest 3d

General/Decennial Digest

  • Covers all reported American cases (state and federal) for five- to ten-year periods. If you don’t know the jurisdiction in which your case was heard, this source is probably the best place to start. Decennial digest are updated by General Digests that are published twelve times annually. Each General Digest contains a Table of Cases for that volume. Every tenth volume has a cumulative list for the preceding 10 volumes.

Specialized Digests

  • Education Law Digest
  • Federal Claims Digest