Law of the United States
The law of the United States comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law, of which the most important is the United States Constitution, the foundation of the federal government of the United States. The Constitution sets out the boundaries of federal law, which consists of Acts of Congress, treaties ratified by the Senate, regulations promulgated by the executive branch, case law originating from the federal judiciary; the United States Code is the official compilation and codification of general and permanent federal statutory law. Federal law and treaties, so long as they are in accordance with the Constitution, preempt conflicting state and territorial laws in the 50 U. S. in the territories. However, the scope of federal preemption is limited because the scope of federal power is not universal. In the dual-sovereign system of American federalism, states are the plenary sovereigns, each with their own constitution, while the federal sovereign possesses only the limited supreme authority enumerated in the Constitution.
Indeed, states may grant their citizens broader rights than the federal Constitution as long as they do not infringe on any federal constitutional rights. Thus, most U. S. law consists of state law, which can and does vary from one state to the next. At both the federal and state levels, with the exception of the state of Louisiana, the law of the United States is derived from the common law system of English law, in force at the time of the American Revolutionary War. However, American law has diverged from its English ancestor both in terms of substance and procedure, has incorporated a number of civil law innovations. In the United States, the law is derived from five sources: constitutional law, statutory law, administrative regulations, the common law. Where Congress enacts a statute that conflicts with the Constitution, state or federal courts may rule that law to be unconstitutional and declare it invalid. Notably, a statute does not automatically disappear because it has been found unconstitutional.
Many federal and state statutes have remained on the books for decades after they were ruled to be unconstitutional. However, under the principle of stare decisis, no sensible lower court will enforce an unconstitutional statute, any court that does so will be reversed by the Supreme Court. Conversely, any court that refuses to enforce a constitutional statute will risk reversal by the Supreme Court. Commonwealth countries are heirs to the common law legal tradition of English law. Certain practices traditionally allowed under English common law were expressly outlawed by the Constitution, such as bills of attainder.</ref> and general search rrts. As common law courts, U. S. courts have inherited the principle of stare decisis. American judges, like common law judges elsewhere, not only apply the law, they make the law, to the extent that their decisions in the cases before them become precedent for decisions in future cases; the actual substance of English law was formally "received" into the United States in several ways.
First, all U. S. states except Louisiana have enacted "reception statutes" which state that the common law of England is the law of the state to the extent that it is not repugnant to domestic law or indigenous conditions. Some reception statutes impose a specific cutoff date for reception, such as the date of a colony's founding, while others are deliberately vague. Thus, contemporary U. S. courts cite pre-Revolution cases when discussing the evolution of an ancient judge-made common law principle into its modern form, such as the heightened duty of care traditionally imposed upon common carriers. Second, a small number of important British statutes in effect at the time of the Revolution have been independently reenacted by U. S. states. Two examples are the Statute of 13 Elizabeth; such English statutes are still cited in contemporary American cases interpreting their modern American descendants. Despite the presence of reception statutes, much of contemporary American common law has diverged from English common law.
Although the courts of the various Commonwealth nations are influenced by each other's rulings, American courts follow post-Revolution Commonwealth rulings unless there is no American ruling on point, the facts and law at issue are nearly identical, the reasoning is persuasive. Early on, American courts after the Revolution did cite contemporary English cases, because appellate decisions from many American courts were not reported until the mid-19th century. Lawyers and judges used English legal materials to fill the gap. Citations to English decisions disappeared during the 19th century as American courts developed their own principles to resolve the legal problems of the American people; the number of published volumes of American reports soared from eighteen in 1810 to over 8,000 by 1910. By 1879 one of the delegates to the California constitutional convention was complaining: "Now, when we require them to state the reasons for a decision, we do not mean they shall write a hundred pages of detail.
We not mean that they shall include the small cases, impose on the country all this fine judici
Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U. S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast. Houston is the most populous city in Texas and the fourth largest in the U. S. while San Antonio is the second-most populous in the state and seventh largest in the U. S. Dallas–Fort Worth and Greater Houston are the fourth and fifth largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country, respectively. Other major cities include Austin, the second-most populous state capital in the U. S. and El Paso. Texas is nicknamed "The Lone Star State" to signify its former status as an independent republic, as a reminder of the state's struggle for independence from Mexico; the "Lone Star" can be found on the Texan state seal.
The origin of Texas's name is from the word taysha. Due to its size and geologic features such as the Balcones Fault, Texas contains diverse landscapes common to both the U. S. Southern and Southwestern regions. Although Texas is popularly associated with the U. S. southwestern deserts, less than 10% of Texas's land area is desert. Most of the population centers are in areas of former prairies, grasslands and the coastline. Traveling from east to west, one can observe terrain that ranges from coastal swamps and piney woods, to rolling plains and rugged hills, the desert and mountains of the Big Bend; the term "six flags over Texas" refers to several nations. Spain was the first European country to claim the area of Texas. France held a short-lived colony. Mexico controlled the territory until 1836 when Texas won its independence, becoming an independent Republic. In 1845, Texas joined the union as the 28th state; the state's annexation set off a chain of events that led to the Mexican–American War in 1846.
A slave state before the American Civil War, Texas declared its secession from the U. S. in early 1861, joined the Confederate States of America on March 2nd of the same year. After the Civil War and the restoration of its representation in the federal government, Texas entered a long period of economic stagnation. Four major industries shaped the Texas economy prior to World War II: cattle and bison, cotton and oil. Before and after the U. S. Civil War the cattle industry, which Texas came to dominate, was a major economic driver for the state, thus creating the traditional image of the Texas cowboy. In the 19th century cotton and lumber grew to be major industries as the cattle industry became less lucrative, it was though, the discovery of major petroleum deposits that initiated an economic boom which became the driving force behind the economy for much of the 20th century. With strong investments in universities, Texas developed a diversified economy and high tech industry in the mid-20th century.
As of 2015, it is second on the list of the most Fortune 500 companies with 54. With a growing base of industry, the state leads in many industries, including agriculture, energy and electronics, biomedical sciences. Texas has led the U. S. in state export revenue since 2002, has the second-highest gross state product. If Texas were a sovereign state, it would be the 10th largest economy in the world; the name Texas, based on the Caddo word táyshaʼ "friend", was applied, in the spelling Tejas or Texas, by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves the Hasinai Confederacy, the final -s representing the Spanish plural. The Mission San Francisco de los Tejas was completed near the Hasinai village of Nabedaches in May 1690, in what is now Houston County, East Texas. During Spanish colonial rule, in the 18th century, the area was known as Nuevo Reino de Filipinas "New Kingdom of the Philippines", or as provincia de los Tejas "province of the Tejas" also provincia de Texas, "province of Texas", it was incorporated as provincia de Texas into the Mexican Empire in 1821, declared a republic in 1836.
The Royal Spanish Academy recognizes both spellings and Texas, as Spanish-language forms of the name of the U. S. State of Texas; the English pronunciation with /ks/ is unetymological, based in the value of the letter x in historical Spanish orthography. Alternative etymologies of the name advanced in the late 19th century connected the Spanish teja "rooftile", the plural tejas being used to designate indigenous Pueblo settlements. A 1760s map by Jacques-Nicolas Bellin shows a village named Teijas on Trinity River, close to the site of modern Crockett. Texas is the second-largest U. S. state, with an area of 268,820 square miles. Though 10% larger than France and twice as large as Germany or Japan, it ranks only 27th worldwide amongst country subdivisions by size. If it were an independent country, Texas would be the 40th largest behind Zambia. Texas is in the south central part of the United States of America. Three of its borders are defined by rivers; the Rio Grande forms a natural border with the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas to the south.
The Red River forms a natural border with Arkansas to the north. The Sabine River forms a natural border with Louisiana to the east; the Texas Panhandle has an eastern border with Oklahoma at 100° W, a northern border with Oklahoma at 36°30' N and a western
Kentucky the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state located in the east south-central region of the United States. Although styled as the "State of Kentucky" in the law creating it, Kentucky is one of four U. S. states constituted as a commonwealth. A part of Virginia, in 1792 Kentucky became the 15th state to join the Union. Kentucky is the 26th most populous of the 50 United States. Kentucky is known as the "Bluegrass State", a nickname based on the bluegrass found in many of its pastures due to the fertile soil. One of the major regions in Kentucky is the Bluegrass Region in central Kentucky, which houses two of its major cities and Lexington, it is a land with diverse environments and abundant resources, including the world's longest cave system, Mammoth Cave National Park, the greatest length of navigable waterways and streams in the contiguous United States, the two largest man-made lakes east of the Mississippi River. Kentucky is known for horse racing, bourbon distilleries, coal, the "My Old Kentucky Home" historic state park, automobile manufacturing, bluegrass music, college basketball, Kentucky Fried Chicken.
In 1776, the counties of Virginia beyond the Appalachian Mountains became known as Kentucky County, named for the Kentucky River. The precise etymology of the name is uncertain, but based on an Iroquoian name meaning " the meadow" or " the prairie". Others have put forth the possibility of Kenta Aki, which would come from Algonquian language and, would have derived from the Shawnees. Folk etymology states that this translates as "Land of Our Fathers." The closest approximation in another Algonquian language, Ojibwe translates it more-so to "Land of Our In-Laws", thus making a fairer English translation "The Land of Those Who Became Our Fathers." In any case, the word aki comes out as land in all Algonquian languages. Kentucky is situated in the Upland South. A significant portion of eastern Kentucky is part of Appalachia. Kentucky borders seven states, from the Southeast. West Virginia lies to the east, Virginia to the southeast, Tennessee to the south, Missouri to the west and Indiana to the northwest, Ohio to the north and northeast.
Only Missouri and Tennessee, both of which border eight states, touch more. Kentucky's northern border is formed by the Ohio River and its western border by the Mississippi River. However, the official border is based on the courses of the rivers as they existed when Kentucky became a state in 1792. For instance, northbound travelers on U. S. 41 from Henderson, after crossing the Ohio River, will be in Kentucky for about two miles. Ellis Park, a thoroughbred racetrack, is located in this small piece of Kentucky. Waterworks Road is part of the only land border between Kentucky. Kentucky has a non-contiguous part known at the far west corner of the state, it exists as an exclave surrounded by Missouri and Tennessee, is included in the boundaries of Fulton County. Road access to this small part of Kentucky on the Mississippi River requires a trip through Tennessee; the epicenter of the powerful 1811–12 New Madrid earthquakes was near this area causing the river to flow backwards in some places. Though the series of quakes did change the area geologically and affect the inhabitants of the area at the time, the Kentucky Bend was formed because of a surveying error, not the New Madrid earthquake.
Kentucky can be divided into five primary regions: the Cumberland Plateau in the east, the north-central Bluegrass region, the south-central and western Pennyroyal Plateau, the Western Coal Fields and the far-west Jackson Purchase. The Bluegrass region is divided into two regions, the Inner Bluegrass—the encircling 90 miles around Lexington—and the Outer Bluegrass—the region that contains most of the northern portion of the state, above the Knobs. Much of the outer Bluegrass is in the Eden Shale Hills area, made up of short and narrow hills; the Jackson Purchase and western Pennyrile are home to several bald cypress/tupelo swamps. Located within the southeastern interior portion of North America, Kentucky has a climate that can best be described as a humid subtropical climate, only small higher areas of the southeast of the state has an oceanic climate influenced by the Appalachians. Temperatures in Kentucky range from daytime summer highs of 87 °F to the winter low of 23 °F; the average precipitation is 46 inches a year.
Kentucky experiences four distinct seasons, with substantial variations in the severity of summer and winter. The highest recorded temperature was 114 °F at Greensburg on July 28, 1930 while the lowest recorded temperature was −37 °F at Shelbyville on January 19, 1994, it has four distinct seasons, but experiences the extreme cold as far northern states, nor the high heat of the states in the Deep South. Temperatures seldom drop below 0 degrees or rise above 100 degrees. Rain and snowfall totals about 45 inches per year. There are big variations in climate within the state; the northern parts tend to be about 5 degrees cooler than those in western parts of the state. Somerset in the south-central part receives 10 more inches of rain per year than, for instance, Covington to the north. Average temperatures for the entire Commonwe
Case citation is a system used by legal professionals to identify past court case decisions, either in series of books called reporters or law reports, or in a neutral style that identifies a decision regardless of where it is reported. Case citations are formatted differently in different jurisdictions, but contain the same key information. A legal citation is a "reference to a legal precedent or authority, such as a case, statute, or treatise, that either substantiates or contradicts a given position." Where cases are published on paper, the citation contains the following information: Court that issued the decision Report title Volume number Page, section, or paragraph number Publication yearIn some report series, for example in England and some in Canada, volumes are not numbered independently of the year: thus the year and volume number are required to identify which book of the series has the case reported within its covers. In such citations, it is usual in these jurisdictions to apply square brackets "" to the year.
The Internet brought with it the opportunity for courts to publish their decisions on websites and most published court decisions now appear in that way. They can be found through many national and other websites, such as WorldLII, that are operated by members of the Free Access to Law Movement; the resulting flood of unpaginated information has led to numbering of paragraphs and the adoption of a medium-neutral citation system. This contains the following information: Year of decision Abbreviated title of the court Decision number Rather than utilizing page numbers for pinpoint references, which would depend upon particular printers and browsers, pinpoint quotations refer to paragraph numbers; the conjunction "versus" is abbreviated to "v" in Commonwealth countries and to "v." in the United States. In common law countries with an adversarial system of justice, the names of the opposing parties are separated in the case title by the abbreviation v—usually written as v in Commonwealth countries and always as v. in the US.
The abbreviation represents the Latin word versus. When case titles are read out loud, the v can be pronounced, depending on the context, as and, versus, or vee. Commonwealth countries follow English legal style: Civil cases are pronounced with and. For example, Smith v Jones would be pronounced "Smith and Jones". Criminal cases are pronounced with against. For example, R v Smith would be pronounced "the Crown against Smith"; the Latin words Rex and versus are all rendered into English. Versus and vee are incorrect. In the United States, there is no consensus on the pronunciation of the abbreviation v; this has led to much confusion about the pronunciation and spelling of court cases: Versus is most used, leading some newspapers to use the common abbreviation vs. in place of the legal abbreviation v. Vee is heard but is not as common. Against is a matter of personal style. For example, Warren E. Burger and John Paul Stevens preferred to announce cases at the Supreme Court with against, and is used by some law professors, but other law professors regard it as an affectation.
During oral arguments in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the participants demonstrated the lack of consensus by using different pronunciations of v. Solicitor General Ken Starr managed to use all three of the most common American pronunciations interchangeably: Kenneth W. Starr: This is the process of analysis, quite familiar to the Court lengthily laid out by Justice Harlan in his dissent in Poe versus Ullman, adumbrated in his concurring opinion in Griswold against Connecticut.... Well, I think that, the necessary consequence of Roe vee Wade. Legal citation in Australia mirrors the methods of citation used in England. A used guide to Australian legal citation is the Australian Guide to Legal Citation, published jointly by the Melbourne University Law Review and the Melbourne Journal of International Law; the standard case citation format in Australia is: As in Canada, there has been divergence among citation styles. There exist commercial citation guides published by Butterworths and other legal publishing companies, academic citation styles and court citation styles.
Each court in Australia may cite the same case differently. There is presently a movement in convergence to the comprehensive academic citation style of the Australian Guide to Legal Citation published jointly by the Melbourne University Law Review and the Melbourne Journal of International Law. Australian courts and tribunals have now adopted a neutral citation standard for case law; the format provides a naming system that does not depend on the publication of the case in a law report. Most cases are now published on AustLII using neutral citations; the standard format looks like this: So the above-mentioned Mabo case would be cited like this: Mabo v Queensland HCA 23. There is a unique court identifier code for most courts; the court and tribunal identifiers include: Australian Guide to Legal Citation There are a number of citation standards in Canada. Many legal publishing companies and schools have their own standard for citation. Since the late 1990s, much of the legal community has converged to a single standard—formulated in The Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation known as the "McGill Guide" after the McGill Law Journal, which first published it.
The following format reflects this standard: Hunter v Southam, 2 SCR 145. Broken into its component parts, the format is: The Style of Cause is i
Missouri is a state in the Midwestern United States. With over six million residents, it is the 18th-most populous state of the Union; the largest urban areas are St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia; the state is the 21st-most extensive in area. In the South are the Ozarks, a forested highland, providing timber and recreation; the Missouri River, after which the state is named, flows through the center of the state into the Mississippi River, which makes up Missouri's eastern border. Humans have inhabited the land now known as Missouri for at least 12,000 years; the Mississippian culture built mounds, before declining in the 14th century. When European explorers arrived in the 17th century they encountered the Osage and Missouria nations; the French established Louisiana, a part of New France, founded Ste. Genevieve in 1735 and St. Louis in 1764. After a brief period of Spanish rule, the United States acquired the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Americans from the Upland South, including enslaved African Americans, rushed into the new Missouri Territory.
Missouri was admitted as a slave state as part of the Missouri Compromise. Many from Virginia and Tennessee settled in the Boonslick area of Mid-Missouri. Soon after, heavy German immigration formed the Missouri Rhineland. Missouri played a central role in the westward expansion of the United States, as memorialized by the Gateway Arch; the Pony Express, Oregon Trail, Santa Fe Trail, California Trail all began in Missouri. As a border state, Missouri's role in the American Civil War was complex and there were many conflicts within. After the war, both Greater St. Louis and the Kansas City metropolitan area became centers of industrialization and business. Today, the state is divided into the independent city of St. Louis. Missouri's culture blends elements from Southern United States; the musical styles of ragtime, Kansas City jazz, St. Louis Blues developed in Missouri; the well-known Kansas City-style barbecue, lesser-known St. Louis-style barbecue, can be found across the state and beyond. Missouri is a major center of beer brewing.
Missouri wine is produced in Ozarks. Missouri's alcohol laws are among the most permissive in the United States. Outside of the state's major cities, popular tourist destinations include the Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, Branson. Well-known Missourians include U. S. President Harry S. Truman, Mark Twain, Walt Disney, Chuck Berry, Nelly; some of the largest companies based in the state include Cerner, Express Scripts, Emerson Electric, Edward Jones, H&R Block, Wells Fargo Advisors, O'Reilly Auto Parts. Missouri has been called the "Mother of the West" and the "Cave State"; the state is named for the Missouri River, named after the indigenous Missouri Indians, a Siouan-language tribe. It is said that they were called the ouemessourita, meaning "those who have dugout canoes", by the Miami-Illinois language speakers; this appears to be folk etymology—the Illinois spoke an Algonquian language and the closest approximation that can be made in that of their close neighbors, the Ojibwe, is "You Ought to Go Downriver & Visit Those People."
This would be an odd occurrence, as the French who first explored and attempted to settle the Mississippi River got their translations during that time accurate giving things French names that were exact translations of the native tongue. Assuming Missouri were deriving from the Siouan language, it would translate as "It connects to the side of it," in reference to the river itself; this is not likely either, as this would be coming out as "Maya Sunni" Most though, the name Missouri comes from Chiwere, a Siouan language spoken by people who resided in the modern day states of Wisconsin, South Dakota, Missouri & Nebraska. The name "Missouri" has several different pronunciations among its present-day natives, the two most common being and. Further pronunciations exist in Missouri or elsewhere in the United States, involving the realization of the first syllable as either or. Any combination of these phonetic realizations may be observed coming from speakers of American English; the linguistic history was treated definitively by Donald M. Lance, who acknowledged that the question is sociologically complex, but that no pronunciation could be declared "correct", nor could any be defined as native or outsider, rural or urban, southern or northern, educated or otherwise.
Politicians employ multiple pronunciations during a single speech, to appeal to a greater number of listeners. Informal respellings of the state's name, such as "Missour-ee" or "Missour-uh", are used informally to phonetically distinguish pronunciations. There is no official state nickname. However, Missouri's unofficial nickname is the "Show Me State"; this phrase has several origins. One is popularly ascribed to a speech by Congressman Willard Vandiver in 1899, who declared that "I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and Democrats, frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I'm from Missouri, you have got to show me." This is in keeping with the saying "I'm from Missouri" which means "I'm skeptical of the matter and not convinced." However, according to researchers, the phrase "show me" was in use
The United States of America known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U. S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D. C. and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico; the State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean; the U. S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The diverse geography and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century; the United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies following the French and Indian War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775, the subsequent Declaration of Independence in 1776; the war ended in 1783 with the United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a European power. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties; the United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, displacing Native American tribes, admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848. During the second half of the 19th century, the Civil War led to the abolition of slavery.
By the end of the century, the United States had extended into the Pacific Ocean, its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial Revolution, began to soar. The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power; the United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Sweeping civil rights legislation, notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, outlawed discrimination based on race or color. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the Space Race, culminating with the 1969 U. S. Moon landing; the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower. The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation, it is a representative democracy.
The United States is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States, other international organizations. The United States is a developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP and second-largest economy by PPP, accounting for a quarter of global GDP; the U. S. economy is post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge-based activities, although the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world. The United States is the world's largest importer and the second largest exporter of goods, by value. Although its population is only 4.3% of the world total, the U. S. holds 31% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share of global wealth concentrated in a single country. Despite wide income and wealth disparities, the United States continues to rank high in measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage, human development, per capita GDP, worker productivity.
The United States is the foremost military power in the world, making up a third of global military spending, is a leading political and scientific force internationally. In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere America in honor of the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci; the first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq. to George Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental Army, Lt. Col. Joseph Reed. Moylan expressed his wish to go "with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain" to seek assistance in the revolutionary war effort; the first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1776. The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed by June 17, 1776, at the latest, declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the'United States of America'".
The final version of the Articles sent to the states for ratification in late 1777 contains the sentence "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be'The United States of America'". In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence; this draft of the document did not surface unti
Law reports or reporters are series of books that contain judicial opinions from a selection of case law decided by courts. When a particular judicial opinion is referenced, the law report series in which the opinion is printed will determine the case citation format. In the United States, the term reporter was used to refer to the individual persons who compile and publish such opinions. For example, the Reporter of Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States is the person authorized to publish the Court's cases in the bound volumes of the United States Reports. In American English, reporter denotes the books themselves. In the Commonwealth, these are described by the plural term law reports, the title that appears on the covers of the periodical parts and the individual volumes. In common law countries, court opinions are binding under the rule of stare decisis; that rule requires a court to apply a legal principle, set forth earlier by a court of a superior jurisdiction dealing with a similar set of facts.
Thus, the regular publication of such opinions is important so that everyone—lawyers and laymen can all find out what the law is, as declared by judges. Official law reports or reporters are those authorized for publication by statute or other governmental ruling. Governments designate law reports as official to provide an authoritative and authentic statement of a jurisdiction's primary law. Official case law publishing may be carried out by a commercial entity. Unofficial law reports, on the other hand, are not sanctioned and are published as a commercial enterprise. In Australia and New Zealand, official reports are called authorised reports - unofficial are referred to as unauthorised reports. For the publishers of unofficial reports to maintain a competitive advantage over the official ones, unofficial reports provide helpful research aids, like the editorial enhancements used in the West American Digest System; some commercial publishers provide court opinions in searchable online databases that are part of larger fee-based, online legal research systems, such as Westlaw, Lexis-Nexis or Justis.
Unofficially published court opinions are often published before the official opinions, so lawyers and law journals must cite the unofficial report until the case comes out in the official report. But once a court opinion is published, case citation rules require a person to cite to the official reports. A good printed law report in traditional form contains the following items: The citation reference; the name of the case. Catchwords; the headnote. However, a headnote is not part of the decision rendered. Headnotes contain misinterpretations of the law in judgments of lower courts, are not regarded as part of an official judgment or precedent. A recital of the facts of the case. A note of the arguments of counsel before the judge; the judgment. The development of the Internet created the opportunity for courts to publish their decisions on Web sites; this is a low cost publication method compared to paper and makes court decisions more available to the public. Because a court can post a decision on a Web site as soon as it is rendered, the need for a printed case in an unofficial, commercial report becomes less crucial.
However, the ease of internet publication has raised new concerns about the ease with which internet-published decisions can be modified after publication, creating uncertainty about the validity of internet opinions. Decisions of courts from all over the world can now be found through the WorldLII Web site, the sites of its member organizations; these projects have been encouraged by the Free Access to Law Movement. Many law librarians and academics have commented on the changing system of legal information delivery brought about by the rapid growth of the World Wide Web. Professor Bob Berring writes that the "primacy of the old paper sets is fading, a vortex of conflicting claims and products is spinning into place". In theory, court decisions posted on the Web expand access to the law beyond the specialized law library collections used by lawyers and judges; the general public can more find court opinions online, whether posted on Web-accessible databases, or through general Web search engines.
Questions remain, however, on the need for a uniform and practical citation format for cases posted on the Web. Furthermore, turning away from the traditional "official-commercial" print report model raises questions about the accuracy and reliability of case law found on the Web; the answer to these questions will be determined, in large part, through changing government information policies, by the degree of influence exerted by commercial database providers on global legal information markets. Reports come in the form of sturdy hardcover books with most of the design elements on the spine; the volume number is printed in large type to make it easy to spot. Gold leaf is traditionally used o