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CRJ Getting Started in Criminal Justice Research: Cases, Laws and Codes

Parts of a Legal Citation

a legal citation for Kellner v. Christian, 197 Wis. 2d 183 (1995) with parts identified and explained. Names of parties comma volume number abbreviation for the reporter the case appearred in page number year of decision in parentheses with a period ending citation.

The illustration above depicts a legal citation for Kellner v. Christian. Each piece of the citation is designed to help researchers locate the case in a published legal reporter. The names of the parties can be underlined or in italics. Commonly a citation includes information for locating the case in several reporters. These are called parallel citations.

Newer cases may include a public domain cite which helps researchers locate online cases. These citations include the year the decision was filed, the court designation such as WI for Wisconsin Supreme Court, and a number assigned by the court handing down the decision. The citation below contains the public domain cite immediately following the parties names.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel v. City of Milwaukee, 2012 WI 65, 341 Wis. 2d 607, 815 N.W.2d 367.

 Source: https://www.law.cornell.edu/citation/2-200.htm

Library Resource: Nexis Uni™

Case Law via Google Scholar

Law-Related Websites

Check out FindLaw's Introduction to the U.S. Legal System to gain a better understanding of legal system basics, the state court systems, the federal court system and civil court cases. 

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