The Tarlton Law Library is open at this time with access limited to current UT Law students, faculty, and staff. Members of the UT Austin community unaffiliated with the law school may contact the Circulation Desk (firstname.lastname@example.org, 512-471-7726) for assistance with accessing library resources. Online reference services are also available. Please see the Tarlton Reopening FAQs and the Texas Law Fall 2020 Reopening Plan for additional details
Print digests, published by West, provide subject access to all reported cases. Brief summaries, or "squibs", of legal issues discussed in cases are arranged topically within a digest. Through its organizational structure, a digest also serves as a topical outline of case law.
Each squib is assigned a topic within the West digest system. Topics are then divided into subtopics that are assigned "key numbers." The squibs with their assigned topics and key numbers are used as headnotes in cases in West's reporter sets.
Headnotes within a reported case simply summarize the different points of law and clue the researcher to which part of the court’s opinion is relevant to the issue being researched. The headnotes in cases, with their topics and key numbers, can be used, in conjunction with the digests, to find other cases on the same subject.
Main volumes contain case squibs (headnotes from cases) arranged alphabetically by topic.
Finding cases in the West digests:
To make sure that you have the most recent cases, check the pocket part for the volume of the digest you are using and check any cumulative paper supplements that are available for the digest set you are using.
Digests are generally organized by jurisdiction: federal, region, and state. All the digests here at Tarlton are located in the reading room on the main 2nd floor.
The current digest for federal case law is West's Federal Practice Digest, 5th.There are also digests for the U.S. Supreme Court. For state law, there is West's General Digest. Texas is one of the states that has its own, individual digest: West's Texas Digest, 2d, (1935-present). For more information about digests, see also the library's guides to the U.S. Supreme Court and Texas law.
Some commercial databases, like Westlaw and Lexis, include headnotes. Westlaw's Key Number System is available on Westlaw, and Lexis provides topic categories. Free case law databases typically do not provide headnotes and have little or no topic categorization.
For more information about online resources, see this guide's Free Online Resources page.