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Legal Research: Frequently Asked Questions

It is recommended that an attorney be consulted when an interpretation of the law is needed. UCF library staff are not able to provide any legal advice. Legal Assistance Information

How do I translate the numbers and letters to find a case?

The first number is the volume and the last number is the beginning page of the case in that volume. The abbreviation in the middle identifies the name of the publication. Examples:

  • 347 U.S. 483; 74 S. Ct. 686; 98 L. Ed. 873
    • All three citations refer to the same case, Brown v. Board of Education, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954. The case begins on page 483 in volume 347 of United States Supreme Court Reports and is also available beginning on page 686 of volume 74 of Supreme Court Reporter and on page 873 in volume 98 of United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition. NOTE: The UCF Library does not have the print version of Supreme Court Reporter.
  • 773 So. 2d 524
    • The report of Gore v. Harris, decided by the Florida Supreme Court in 2000, begins on page 524 in volume 773 of the Southern Reporter, Second Series.

What's the difference between the circuit and district courts?

In Florida, the circuit courts are the trial courts at the local level, and the district courts (e.g., 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach) are the appellate courts between the circuit courts and the Florida Supreme Court.

In the federal court system, the names are reversed; the district courts are the trial courts within each state (e.g., U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division) and the circuit courts (e.g., U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit in Atlanta) are the appellate courts between the district courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Where else in Orlando can I find legal materials?

Be sure to ask at the UCF Library's Research Assistance Desk, just in case the title you're seeking is available in the UCF Library as part of some other material, but is not listed individually in the catalog. Two local law schools have some materials not found at UCF:

Why can't I find the U.S. Reporter?

The official version of published U.S. Supreme Court cases is United States Reports (not Reporter), but it usually takes 2-3 years for the official version to be published. The UCF Library does have the official U.S. Reports in the U.S. Documents Collection [JU 6.8:], but we also have the complete run of Supreme Court cases available in a commercial format.

  • United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition [Reference KF.A2] provides all of the U.S. Supreme Court cases (plus some earlier decisions) from 1754 forward, including preliminary publication of very recent cases 2-3 years before the official version comes out.
  • The UCF Library does not have the other commercial format, Supreme Court Reporter, so if you only have that citation (e.g., 93 S. Ct. 705), you'll need to identify the citation for the version we have (e.g., 35 L. Ed. 2d 147) using the Parallel Reference Tables in volume 4 of Shepard's United States Citations [Reference KF101.2.S54].
  • Most cases are also available electronically through the UCF Library's subscription to LexisNexis Academic.

Can you fax me a copy of Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

Yes and no. The original text of Title VII-Equal Employment Opportunity appears on pages 253-266 in volume 78 of United States Statutes at Large [U.S. Documents GS4.111:].  But you're probably looking for the law as it exists today after decades of modifications and spread out through various sections of the U.S. Code.  You'll need to conduct your own research to locate all the sections of interest to you.

Are living wills legal in Massachusetts?

First, we recommend that you consult an attorney when an interpretation of the law is needed. If you'd like to look at an overview of the laws of various states, try the Martindale-Hubbell Law Digest [Reference KF 190 .M32 for the 2006 print edition - ask at the Research Assistance Desk for access to the subsequent editions on CD-ROM]. The topical index in the front of each volume indicates that "living wills" are included under the category "Estates and Trusts"- topic "Wills".  The General Laws of Massachusetts are summarized in approximately 70 pages. Since the summaries also identify the specific statutes by number, you have a starting point if you decide to look at the full text of the statutes, either through LexisNexis Academic or through the StateLaw link listed on our Government Resources for Other States webpage. NOTE: There are a few states that don't have specific legislative provisions for living wills, and others don't use the phrase "living will", so you could search a long time unsuccessfully in their statutes. The summaries in Martindale-Hubbell Law Digest can save you time because entries are included for each subject, even if the only information is "No legislation." Of course, if it's a brand new law, then it won't appear in Martindale-Hubbell Law Digest until next year's edition.

Where can I find information about the TESOL consent decree?

See the Consent Decree research guide for information about League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) et al. v. State Board of Education Consent Decree, United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, August 14, 1990

How do I enter the section symbol ยง (a pair of overlapping S characters) in a document?