COMS 336: Rhetoric of Law

Choosing a Court Case

Finding Background Information on Cases

Finding Articles in Law Reviews / Law Journals

Finding Briefs

LexisNexis Academic (1979-present) Provides access to merit briefs for cases granted certiorari and special masters, amicus curiae briefs, and joint appendices beginning in January 1979, with very limited coverage from 1936. The briefs of the two main parties are often described as  "Petitioner's Brief" and "Respondent's Brief" or "Appellant's Brief" and "Appellee's Brief." Sometimes instead of including the parties' names in the case brief titles, LexisNexis only provides the case number in the title of the brief. Also, please note that  sometimes the parties named in a case change during the span of a case.

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Findlaw (1999 - 2007)

Supreme Court Records and Briefs (1832-1978) Briefs before 1979 can be accessed by going to the database called "Supreme Court Records and Briefs,1832-1978". 

Briefs & Petitions on Microfiche in the Law Library Zeif Library has briefs and petitions on fiche from 1951 to date, in Fiche Cabinets 21 through 24. For 1951-1971, the library has briefs for full opinion cases only. From 1973 to date, the library has briefs and petitions for all cases—full opinion, cert. denied, summary disposition, and per curiam.

Finding Transcripts of Oral Arguments

U.S. Supreme Court Website Beginning with the October 2000 term, official transcripts (in PDF format) are archived on the Supreme Court's web site. Go to the Supreme Court’s website, choose Oral Arguments, then scroll down to Argument Transcripts. 

Oyez   Oyez is a website with Supreme Court audio recordings of hearings. They have gone back to 1980 and their goal is to go back to 1955. For selected cases argued before 1979, and for nearly all cases argued after 1979, they provide unofficial versions of the transcripts on their website, along with the audio whenever available. Once you have found your case, click on the "Expanded View" to obtain the printed transcript of the oral arguments.

May It Please the Court   Recordings (cassette) and transcripts of the oral arguments made before the Supreme Court in sixteen key First Amendment cases.

Oral Argument Transcripts on Microfiche in the Law Library The USF law library has oral argument transcripts from 1969 to date. They are filed by docket number in Fiche Cabinet 20, drawer 7. The set contains all transcripts for review granted cases, but the publisher is slow to send new material. Transcripts for a term's arguments generally arrive in the library about 18 months after the end of the term.

Finding Supreme Court Opinions

Justia Free, searchable opinions from 1790 to the present. Justia also offers browsing by "Recent Opinions," year, and U.S. Reports volume.

U.S. Reports and U.S. Reports Slip Opinions (from HeinOnline) "U.S. Reports" and "U.S. Reports Slip Laws" are the official publications of Supreme Court decisions.  Via HeinOnline you can access the full text of all decisions, from 1754 (Volume 1) to the present.

Oyez Oyez is a website with Supreme Court audio recordings of hearings. They have gone back to 1980 and their goal is to go back to 1955. For selected cases argued before 1979, and for nearly all cases argued after 1979, they provide unofficial versions of the transcripts on their website, along with the audio whenever available. Once you have found your case, look for the section called "Case Basics" in the lower left corner of the case's page, and click on the link provide for "Opinion."

FindLaw A collection of Supreme Court opinions, from 1893 to the present.

Google Scholar - Legal Opinions and Journals  After initial search, choose "Federal Cases" from the drop down menu to narrow your results. 

Legal Information Institute - Cornell University

Research Guides

There are lots of excellent Research Guides for legal research available on Zief Law Library’s website.