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Law

How to find cases, statutes, regulations, and other law-related material

Introduction to case law

Case law consists of the written opinions (or decisions) of courts as they resolve litigation. Opinions explain the reasoning behind the resolution, including citations to relevant statutes and other cases (precedents).

When you're looking for a court case, what you're really looking for is the court's opinion for that case. Case, opinion, and decision are used interchangeably.

Why are there so many cases with the same name?

There are several possible explanations:

  • Every time an event occurs in the life of a court case, a new document is generated. There are ways to figure out which one of the multiple results you want, beginning with knowing the citation, or at least the year and court, of the case.
  • When you search for a case by name, you're searching the entire name field of all the cases in the database. If the parties have common names, or if one of the parties is the United States, you may see several cases in addition to the one you want.
  • You might be finding both state and federal cases. In the U.S., there are separate parallel court systems on the state and federal level. This table shows the current structure of the federal and Connecticut court systems beginning with the lowest level, the trial level, where most cases begin:
Federal   State
United States District Court   Superior Court
United States Court of Appeals   Appellate Court
United States Supreme Court   Connecticut Supreme Court

 

FYI: In the federal court system, Connecticut is in the jurisdiction of the Federal District Court of Connecticut, 2nd Circuit for the U.S. Court of Appeals (along with New York and Vermont), and the United States Supreme Court. In addition, there are also special federal courts like bankruptcy courtsU.S. Tax Court, and U.S. Court of International Claims.