STATUTES are the laws passed by Congress (the legislative branch).
REGULATIONS are the rules passed by the various federal departments and agencies (the executive branch) to enforce the statutes.
CASE LAW refers to the opinions or decisions by judges (the judicial branch) interpreting the constitution, statutes, regulations and prior case law.
Due to federalism, federal laws only apply to federal issues and federal courts typically only hear cases involving federal issues such as:
To learn more visit the United States Courts website at :
Federal laws are published in different places. See the links below for selected sources.
Lawyers never want to cite any case law that has been overturned or is outdated. To make sure this doesn't happen, attorneys "Shepardize" every case they cite. This means that they look for any cases that have cited the case(s) they are relying on.
"Shepard's Citations" is the tool used to "Shepardize" a case and it is available through Lexis Nexis.
See the following Lexis-Nexis tutorial on how to use this tool:
(image from USCourts.gov)
Federal case law includes decisions by any of the Federal Courts - the U.S. Supreme Court, one of the Appellate Courts or one of the Trial Courts (see Federal Court Structure box).
A legal citation includes: