Please keep in mind that since Wright State does not have a law school, the University Libraries legal collection is small. We do not own legal reporters or hard copies of US Code or Code of Federal Regulations. These resources are available in electronic format and can be found in the University Libraries Catalog.
IMPORTANT: If you are having difficulty in finding a law or legal case, contact the government and legal information coordinator at the contact information on the right.
Besides the official documentation of a piece of legislation, you may want to find our more background and context about a particular law. Why was it passed (or not)? What political issues were involved? These sources may help:
Congressional Quarterly Almanac Plus - an annual retrospective analysis of legislative issues and activity arranged by broad subject
Compiling a Federal Legislative History: A Beginner's Guide - a Library of Congress guide for finding legislative histories signed into law
Apart from specialized courts, the federal court system comprises the following:
|Type of court
|The Federal Court System
|The Supreme Court of the United States
|Most cases are appeals from lower courts. In addition to cases from lower federal courts, cases from state supreme courts which involve a point of federal law may be heard. The court has discretion to decide which cases will be considered.
|U.S. Courts of Appeals (also called Circuit Courts of Appeals)
|Appellate courts which deal with appeals from the district courts in their circuit.
|U.S. District Courts
|Trial courts which deal with violations of federal criminal law, disputes regarding federal laws or treaties, and some cases between residents of different states.
Court Locator - Maps showing jurisdictions of the various federal courts
Each state establishes its own system, so there are many variations, but most state system encompass the following:
|Type of court
|The Ohio Court System
|Court of last resort (usually called the supreme court)
|Deals with appeals from lower courts. Has discretion to decide which cases merit review.
|The Ohio Supreme Court
|Intermediate appellate courts
|Deal with appeals concerning lower court decisions.
|In Ohio the Courts of Appeals are divided into 13 districts.
|Trials at which evidence is heard, often in both criminal and civil cases
Each county has a Court of Common Pleas (sometimes with specialized divisions by subject), which deals with criminal felony cases and civil cases over $500.
The Court of Claims has statewide jurisdiction over civil cases against the state of Ohio and claims for compensation for crime victims.
Case law refers to decisions in the various court systems which set precedent for future decisions and are therefore part of the common law.
The effect of a court decision depends on the level of court at which a case was decided. A decision of an appellate court is binding precedent in all lower courts in its jurisdiction. A U.S. Supreme Court decision is binding precedent in all courts dealing with any aspect of federal law.
Appellate court decisions which will be used as precedent in future court cases are published, or reported, in sources specific to the various courts. The purpose of the published decisions is to provide lawyers with information on the interpretation of law, not to provide a historical record of individual cases. For this reason, very few trial court decisions are reported (that is, are available in official sources), and only selected decisions in the lower appellate courts are reported.
When a law has been signed by the President, it is called a Public Law (abbreviated P.L.) and receives a new number composed of the number of the Congress and the consecutive number within that Congress. For example, P.L. 107-2 is the second law enacted in the 107th Congress.
Individual laws are first produced in print format as individual sheets or pamphlets, one per law. In this format, they are known as slip laws.
Statutes at Large
The laws are later bound into volumes in numerical order (i.e., chronological order as they were passed) as the United States Statutes at Large.
The Federal Regulatory Process
|Administrative agencies propose and announce regulations to carry out legislative mandates
|Regulations are codified, that is, incorporated into the exisiting body of regulations arranged by subject
|Code of Federal Regulations
More about the Federal Regulatory Process
Where to Find Authorizing Legislation
Go to Statutes at Large.
The Regulatory Process
Where to find out more about the Ohio regulatory process