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Law - Statute Citations  

Last Updated: Nov 22, 2013 URL: http://guides.lib.wayne.edu/statutecitations Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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    Welcome!

    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.  
     

     

    CITATIONS

    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

    ABBREVIATION CODE TITLE SHELF RANGE NUMBERS

    M.C.L.

    Michigan Compiled Laws - official code

    172 First Level

    M.C.L.A.

    Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated

    172 First Level; Reserve

    M.C.L.S.

    Michigan Compiled Laws Service

    172 First Level

    Stat.

    United States Statutes at Large

    33 Lower Level

    U.S.C.

    United States Code - official code

    82 Lower Level

    U.S.C.C.A.N.

    United States Code Congressional
    and Administrative News

    143 First Level

    U.S.C.A.

    United States Code Annotated

    142 First Level

    U.S.C.S.

    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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