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Law - Statute Citations  

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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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    What is a Citation?

    A legal citation is a reference to a legal authority where particular information, such as a case or statute, can be located.  Legal citations are often confusing to the uninitiated because they differ from references used in other types of research.  



    A statute is "legislation enacted by any lawmaking body, including legislatures, administrative boards, and municipal courts." (Black's Law Dictionary, Eighth Edition, 2004). Statutes are often referred to as codes or acts.

    Statute citations are generally comprised of two or three parts.


    Interpreting Statute Citations

    Three Part Statute Citations
    The three part statute citations are made up of a TITLE number, an ABBREVIATION for the name of the code in which the statutes appear, and a SECTION number. Three part statute citations are interpreted in the following way:

    18 U.S.C.S. 201
    Title number of the Code Abbreviation for the
    name of the code in
    which the statute appears
    Section number

    Two Part Statute Citations

    Some statute citations use only two parts: an ABBREVIATION for the name of the code in which the statute appears and a SECTION number. These two part statute citations are interpreted in the following way:

    M.C.L.A. 750.117
    Abbreviation for the name of the
    code in which the statute appears
    Section number




    Different Types of Codes

    Some statutes appear in several different codes. The United States Code (U.S.C.) is the official, U.S. Government published code of federal legislation. U.S.C citations are also reproduced in two privately published codes: United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.) and United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.). You only need to look at one of the three available versions of the federal code because each reports the same federal legislation.

    Michigan's official statutory code is called Michigan Compiled Laws (M.C.L.), but legal researchers generally use the privately published versions of Michigan legislation: Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated (M.C.L.A.) or Michigan Compiled Laws Service (M.C.L.S.).

    Unofficial, privately published versions of federal and state statutes are generally preferred by legal researchers because they are published much more quickly than their official counterparts, and, often include more research cross references than the official publications.



    Statutory Code Locations

    Finding Code Locations
    The most frequently requested statutory codes are listed in alphabetical order by abbreviation in the table below.  If you have a citation to code, compare the abbreviation in it to the Statutory Code Table to find the WSU Law Library shelf location:

    Statutory Code Location Table



    Michigan Compiled Laws - official code

    172 First Level


    Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated

    172 First Level; Reserve


    Michigan Compiled Laws Service

    172 First Level


    United States Statutes at Large

    33 Lower Level


    United States Code - official code

    82 Lower Level


    United States Code Congressional
    and Administrative News

    143 First Level


    United States Code Annotated

    142 First Level


    United States Code Service

    142 First Level

    The other States' statutory codifications are located in each state's particular collection on the First Level of the Law Library, Northern range.


    For More Information

    Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations
    Dictionary of legal abbreviations
    Law Library Reserves, KF 246 .B46 2001

    Basic Legal Research : Tools and Strategies
    Legal Research Textbook
    Law Library Reserves, KF 240 .S585 2006

    Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citations
    Citation manual
    Law Library Reserves, KF 245 .U5 18th 2005

    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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