JOUR 3633 Media Law

Research guide to accompany JOUR 3633 Media Law, covering constitutional guarantees, statutory laws and court cases applicable to mass communications.

Case Law

The official place of publication for cases published since the spring term of 2009 is the Arkansas Judiciary website. This website has cases dating back to 1837.

Prior to 2009 cases were officially published in print in Arkansas Reports (Supreme Court of Arkansas) and Arkansas Appellate Reports (Arkansas Court of Appeals) (call number KFA3645 .A24). Arkansas state cases are also published in the South Western Reporter (West) (call number KF135 .S7). The print source for looking up cases is the Arkansas Digest 1820- call number KFA3657 .A7.

You can also search Nexis Uni for Arkansas case law from the upper courts. From the main search page, click the "Search by Subject or Topic" drop down menu at the top right of the search box. From the search menu, select "Federal and State Cases" under the list of "Legal" topics. From the new search box, click the "Advanced Options" drop down menu located underneath the search box. From the drop down menu, you can choose to search all cases, or narrow your search by the U. S. Supreme Court, Circuit Courts, Courts of Appeals, Federal Military Court, or by the high courts by state or U. S. territory.

If you do not have a specific citation, the best place to start your research is with secondary sources. Secondary sources are materials that discuss, explain, analyze, and critique the law and include Encyclopedias, American Law Reports, and Treatises. They discuss the law, but are not the law itself. Unlike primary materials (case law, statutes, regulations), secondary sources will help you learn about an area of law, and provide you with citations to relevant primary materials, including cases.

TREATISES provide an in-depth treatment of an area of law - generally written by a practitioner or scholar with a specialization in that area of law. Search Google Scholar or OneSearch to find overviews of a particular topic.

LEGAL ENCYCLOPEDIAS: Legal encyclopedias provide general overviews of legal topics and references to other research materials. These encyclopedias will have a subject index to help you find entries by topic. Search OneSearch for "legal encyclopedia."

ALR ANNOTATIONS: Experts in a particular area of the law write the annotations, or articles, found in American Law Reports. They usually focus on a very narrow area of the law and can provide case citations and references to other secondary sources. Annotations can be found topically using the index or from citations found in other secondary sources, such as American Jurisprudence 2nd, American Law Reports, Corpus Juris Secundum.

DIGESTS: While case law reporters are generally organized chronologically, Digests are multi-volume indexes to the law organized by topic and "key number" classification system. The topics are broad areas of law, with the "key numbers" providing a more narrow subtopic. To use the digests, first try to select key words associated with your topic, or that describe your topic. Westlaw and Lexis are the two most popular law digests (available in the Law Library).

JOURNAL ARTICLES: See the menu item on this Research Guide titled "Articles on Media Law" for sources for journal articles.

RESEARCH GUIDES OR BIBLIOGRAPHIES: Sometimes helpful researchers have already pulled together sources for a particular area of the law. Google your search term and the phrase "research guide," "LibGuide," or "bibliography."

Additional Arkansas law links:

Lawyer in the Library from Center for Arkansas Legal Service

Free Legal Websites for Arkansas, maintained by UALR

Arkansas Legal Services Online, provided by Center for Arkansas Legal Services and Legal Aid of Arkansas

Arkansas Law Review and Arkansas Law Notes provided by the School of Law at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

The UALR Law Review, provided by Bowen School of Law, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Federal case law will be divided between three branches: U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeal (Circuit Courts), and the U.S. District Courts.

Case law is published in official and unofficial case law reporters, in chronological order. Supreme Court opinions are the only federal opinions published in official case reporters. West is the major publisher of unofficial case reporters.

Case citations are the easiest way to retrieve a case (it is possible to find cases by party name, but may not be as exact). Case citations are structured by volume number, reporter abbreviation, and first page of the case. See the Nexis Uni tutorials on How to Find a Specific Legal Case.

U.S Supreme Court Cases: Supreme Court opinions are published in 3 different case law reporters: United States Reports (the official reporter) - "U.S.", Supreme Court Reporter (West) - "S. Ct.", and Lawyers' Edition (Lexis) - "L. Ed.". Sample citation for Brown v. Board of Ed. of Topeka: 347 U.S. 483, 74 S. Ct. 686, 98 L. Ed. 873.

Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal: Circuit Court opinions are published in unofficial reporters (West): Federal Reporter - "F.", Federal Reporter Second Series - "F.2d" and Federal Reporter Third Series - "F.3d".

Federal District (Trial) Courts: The District Court opinions are published in unofficial case reporters (West): Federal Supplement - "F. Supp." and Federal Supplement Second Series - "F. Supp.2d"

Earlier Federal Cases (dating before the Federal Reporter series) are available in Federal Case "F. Cas." bound volumes.

To look for case law on Google Scholar:

  • At the homepage, enter an initial keyword search and narrow your search to "Case law."
  • You can further narrow your search by jurisdiction or court on the initial search screen.
  • After results have appeared, there are filters on the left to narrow your search by date and jurisdiction or court. The default is to display results by relevance, but you may also choose to sort results by date, displaying the most recent cases at the top of the page.
  • When reading a case, case citations are hyperlinked, but not other sources like statutes and regulations.
  • Below each case on the results page, you will see additional links such as:
    • Cited by: other cases that have cited the case you are currently researching. This feature gives some indication of the depth of discussion; one can also search within these results.
    • How cited: language snippets from citing cases.
    • Related articles : additional information relating to that case.
    • Cite: case citation; Bluebook form with links to different citation management systems.

Along with the filters on the left, you may also create an email alert for your search.

Remember that after finding a case on point, you will want to use a citator to check whether the case you found is still good law.

Nexis Uni database provides free access to Shepard's Citations. See the Nexis Uni tutorial on Shepard's Citations.