U.S. Legal Resources Research Guide

This guide is an annotated listing of United States legal materials found in the NC State University Libraries. Specific library locations are included since these titles are located in different areas of the D. H. Hill, Jr. Library.

Getting Started

Legal materials consist of primary sources and secondary sources. Primary sources are considered mandatory authority that a court must follow within a jurisdiction. Constitutions, legislation, administrative regulations, and decisions from a court of higher authority in the same jurisdiction are all primary sources.

Decisions from courts in other jurisdictions, encyclopedias, journal articles, and books on legal topics are considered secondary authority.

The "law" changes frequently. New laws and regulations are passed and new court decisions are released. It is important that you consult the most current versions of legal sources. Publishers of legal materials have created various methods to update legal materials, such as looseleaf pages or supplements inserted in the back of a book (pocket part). Examine the books you are using to determine the updating format.

Uniform methods of citing legal materials have been established. The general format is:

volume source page/section (date)

For example, a decision of the United States Supreme Court would be cited
367 U.S. 431 (1978)
After the description of each source, the appropriate citation format is provided.

Individuals having a specific reference (citation) to a federal case, statute, regulations, etc. should consult the appropriate section under Primary Sources. Those seeking a discussion or article about the "law" on a particular topic should begin with the section titled Secondary Sources. Directories to assist you in deciphering a citation are listed under Other Sources.