Court opinions are published in sets of books called reporters. Reporters include all court opinions in chronological order.
Example: Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 318 (1993).
- Reno v. Flores = Names of the parties
- 507 = Volume that contains the cited case
- U.S. = Abbreviation for the reporter
- 318 = Starting page number for this case
- 1993 = Year of the court decision
For lower courts, we also add the name of the court:
Example: Curry v. State, 228 S.W.3d 292 (Tex. App.—Waco 2007).
- Curry v. State = Names of the parties
- 228 = Volume that contains the cited case
- S.W.3d = Abbreviation for the reporter
- 292 = Starting page number for this case
- Tex. App.-Waco = Name of the court
- 2007 = Year of the court decision
Note that many cases have several "parallel citations," i.e., cases from a particular court may appear in 2 or 3 separate reporters. You only need one citation to find a case. If you don't have the reporter being cited, use the case name index in any parallel reporter to find the pages for your case. Databases like LexisNexis and Westlaw will find the case no matter which reporter was originally cited.
Here are three parallel citations for the same United States Supreme Court opinion:
UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT REPORTS
Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 318 (1993).
UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT REPORTS, LAWYER’S EDITION
Reno v. Flores, 123 L.Ed.2d 1 (1993).
SUPREME COURT REPORTER
Reno v. Flores, 113 S.Ct. 1439 (1993).
UNITED STATES TAX COURT REPORTS
Estate of Young v. C.I.R., 110 T.C. 297 (1998).
Newby v. Enron Corp., 446 F.3d 558. (5th Circ. 2006).
Texas cases are published in the South Western Reporter, 1st edition (S.W.), 2nd edition (S.W.2d), or 3rd edition (S.W.3d).
TEXAS COURT OF APPEALS (Tex. App.)
Curry v. State, 228 S.W.3d 292 (Tex. App.—Waco 2007).
Villarreal v. State, 893 S.W.2d 559 (Tex. App. – Houston [1st Dist.] 1994).
TEXAS COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS (Tex. Crim. App.)
Mendez v. State, 138 S.W.3d 334 (Tex. Crim. App. 2004).
TEXAS SUPREME COURT (Tex.)
City of Dallas v. Jennings, 142 S.W.3d 310 (Tex. 2004).
If you only consult the Internet version of a case, provide the traditional case citation with a link for the Internet version:
Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 318 (1993), http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/91-905.ZC.html.