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Law - Finding Michigan Cases  

Provides step by step instructions on how to find a case decided by the Michigan Court of Appeals or Michigan Supreme Court located in print resources
Last Updated: Nov 22, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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Wayne Law offers a Juris Doctor (JD) program leading to the basic degree necessary to practice law; a Master of Laws (LLM) program, designed for practicing lawyers, which leads to an advanced degree in one of three specialized areas; and concurrent-degree programs combining a JD degree with a master’s degree in one of five other subject areas.

The Law School also offers a number of clinical programs and internships, a variety of international study opportunities, and participation in the Intellectual Property Law Institute which is a joint venture among Wayne Law, the University of Windsor in Canada and the University of Detroit Mercy.

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Wayne State University Law School
471 West Palmer Street
Detroit, Michigan  48202
Tel: (313) 577-3933
Fax: (313) 577-9016


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    Welcome to the guide for Finding Michigan Cases.

    I hope that you will find this guide a useful starting place for your research in finding Michigan cases. I have assembled a core collection of resources available through the Wayne State University Library System, as well as high quality, freely available web resources. This guide is a collaborative work-in-progress, developed with the suggestions and feedback from Law students and faculty.

    I am available by appointment to assist students and faculty with research related to finding Michigan cases. You may also contact me to suggest items for purchase.



    This research guide details how to find cases (judicial opinions) using print resources and is targeted towards those who have never conducted legal research. There are online sources for Michigan cases but those are outside the scope of this guide.

    Types of Cases You Will Find in a Law Library
    Law libraries do not usually carry trial transcripts or information on legal disputes settled out of court. Most cases included in a law library are those that have been appealed and decided on by an appellate or higher-level court.

    The Arthur Neef Law Library subscribes to the official opinions of the two appellate courts in Michigan: the Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals, as well as the unofficial version of the same cases in the Northwestern Reporter. The opinions in each of these sets appear in chronological order. The first step in locating a case within them is to identify its citation. Citations are usually formatted as follows: number-abbreviation-number. For example 500 Mich 123 would be read as volume 500 of the Michigan Reports on page 123.

    If you want to know more about citations, refer to the Case Citations Research Guide.



    Print Digests

    What are Digests?
    One way to find a case is by consulting a digest. Digests are books that contain brief summaries of cases followed by the citation to each case so that you can review its full text. There are two digests for finding Michigan cases: West's Michigan digest 2d., and Callaghan's Michigan digest.

    Finding a Case by Legal Issue or Topic
    Follow these steps if you know the legal issue or topic:

    Step 1: Use the Descriptive Word Index to locate cases by topic
    Step 2: TheIndex search will direct you to a main volume of the digest set 
                which contains brief summaries of cases
    Step 3: Read the Brief case summaries
    Step 4: If you find a case summary that is on-point with your research, write 
               down the citation so that you can pull the case and read the opinion in 
               its entirety. 


    Other Sources that Contain Case Information

    Additional Sources

    Although not an exhaustive list, the following sources may contain information about your topic with relevant case citations in the footnotes:

    • Michigan Law and Practice Encyclopedia
      (Located in Range 173)

    • Journals & Law Reviews
      (Located on the 2nd floor, alphabetical by journal title. Articles on your topic can be found by first consulting an electronic index, such as LegalTrac, which can be located alphabetically on any library computer under Articles Databases


    Michigan Legal Research
    by Pamela Lysaght

    The research process and legal analysis
    Reserves, KFM 4275 .L97 2006

    Basic Legal Research: Tools and Strategies
    by Amy E. Sloan

    Introduction to legal research
    Reserves, KF 240 .S585 2006

    The Process of Legal Research
    by Christina L. Kunz [et al.]

    Legal research
    Reserves, KF 240 .P76 2004

    Legal Research in a Nutshell
    by Morris L. Cohen and Kent C. Olson

    The research process
    Reserves, KF 240 .C54 2007

    Subject Guide

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    Jan Bissett
    Contact Info
    Please contact the Law Library Reference Desk at 313.577.6180 for research assistance.

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