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Source Collecting: Collecting Cases

Understanding Case Publication

Cases are published in large sets of books called reporters. Usually, multiple competing reporters cover each court. For example, California cases are published in both Lexis' official California Reports (Cal.) and California Appellate Reports (Cal. App.) and in West's unofficial California Reporter (Cal. Rptr.) and Pacific Reporter (P.)

Bluebook T1.1 and T1.3 tell you which reporters to cite for each federal and state court. Generally, they tell you to cite to West's National Reporter System, West's comprehensive system of reporters covering all federal and state courts. However, there are exceptions for a handful of courts including, most significantly, the U.S. Supreme Court.

Collecting U.S. Supreme Court Cases

For U.S. Supreme Court cases, Bluebook T1.1 tells you to collect cases from the official United States Reports (U.S.), available in print and in PDF scans on HeinOnline:

To locate a case, click the Citation tab and search for the reporter information. For example, to collect Stern v. Marshall, 564 U.S. 462 (2011), click the Citation tab and search 564 U.S. 462. (See Screencap tab).

The official U.S. reporter is generally a few years behind the unofficial reporters, such as West's Supreme Court Reporter (S. Ct.). If a Supreme Court case has not yet been published in U.S., Bluebook T1.1 tells you to cite the case to S. Ct., which is part of West's National Reporter System and can be collected the same way as other West's National Reporter System cases (described below.)

Collecting Cases From Westlaw

Westlaw posts PDF scans of some but not all cases from its reporter system.

To check for a PDF for a single case, type the reporter information in the main Westlaw search box and then check for a PDF symbol at the top of the page. For example, to collect Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894 (9th Cir. 2002), type 296 F.3d 894 in the main Westlaw search box and then click the PDF symbol at the top of the page. (See Screencap tab.) If you do not see a PDF symbol on Westlaw, you will need to collect the case in print.

To check for PDF scans for multiple cases, use Westlaw's Find & Print tool. (See Video tab.) To retrieve PDFs with Find & Print:

  • Click the Tools tab on the Westlaw homepage and then scroll down to click Find & Print. 
  • Copy and paste the reporter information for all of your cases into the Enter Citations box. 
  • Make sure that the boxes are checked for "Substitute with reporter images when available (PDF)" and "Create a single folder for reporter images."
  • Make sure that "What to Deliver" is set to "Multiple Files (zip)."
  • Click "Submit." Click "Reporter Images" to download a zip file containing all cases available as PDF scans. Click "Next" and "Download" to download a zip file containing all cases not available as PDF scans.

Cases in the ReportedImages folder are scans of the print. Cases in the Westlaw folder are not available as scans on Westlaw and will need to be collected in print.

Collecting Cases in Print

The same reporter information that allows you to retrieve a case on Westlaw tells you where to find a case in print. For example, to collect a print copy of  Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894 (9th Cir. 2002), locate West's Federal Reporter (F.) on the second floor at Rows 207B-210B. Walk past the first two editions to the third edition (F.3d), pull volume 296 off the shelf, and open it to page 894.

The major Bluebook-approved reporters are: