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The Legal Beagle’s favorite book and that of dog lovers everywhere is Every Dog’s Legal Guide: A Must Have Book for Your Owner by Mary Randolph (KF390.5 .D6 R36 2005). His favorite movie is about the crime fighting pooch, Underdog! His current hero is Uno, the beagle who won Best in Show at the...

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Researching State Courts’ Rules!

Posted by Library Blog on 02/25/2010 at 12:00 AM

For law students and lawyers alike, many will have frequent need to research the rules for a particular court such as a district or superior court in the case of civil litigation or a criminal trial.  Appellate work requires expert knowledge of the appellate court’s rules.

Court rules may be published in the state’s statutory code, in separate pamphlets, or in the state case reports.  For example, the big green pamphlet Rhode Island Court Rules Annotated (Stacks and Reserve, KFR30 .1956 .A21 2009) contains rules for the Supreme, Superior, District, Family, Workers’ Compensation, and Traffic Tribunal Courts.  In addition to the text of the Rules, there may be Committee Notes/Reporter’s Notes/Compiler’s Notes (offering a “legislative history” of the Rule), notes to decisions and American Law Reports references where applicable.  The “Notes” typically indicate an adoption of a federal rule or a variation to the federal rule (i.e. civil, criminal, and evidence) and might contain references to case law that prompted a revision to the Rule.

LLRX.com offers links to websites where states’ court rules are posted. A state government, state bar association, or Court website may provide court rules. Court rules are also available on LexisNexis and Westlaw.

For help in interpreting the rules, materials on state civil and criminal practice are often good sources. They may be in the form of a continuing legal education publication, a scholarly treatise, or part of a state practice set.  Ask a Reference Librarian for assistant in locating these publications.