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Basic Legal Research: Statutes

This guide is intended to support your legal research instruction as a part of Legal Methods. It does not replace any instructions from your professor.

CALI Lessons on Statutes

Annotated Codes

Annotated Codes are compilations of all the statutes that have been passed in a particular jurisdiction. The Annotated Codes contain the following items.

  1. Statutory text: the text of all the statutes in the jurisdiction. 

  2. Cross references: citations to other statutory sections that are potentially relevant to the statutory section at which you are looking. 

  3. Historical Notes: provide the legislative history of the statute.
    • Historical Notes will provide information about when a law was first passed, and if and when it has since been amended. 
    • Historical Notes will also potentially provide citations to committee reports and other legislative history regarding the statute. 

  4. Library References: provide citations to other publications that may offer additional information about the statute.
    • In West’s publications, the annotated codes will frequently reference digest key numbers that are relevant to the statutory section you’re reviewing.
    • The Library References will also provide citations to relevant law review articles, treatises, practice guides, and ALRs. 

  5. Administrative rules: citations to any agency regulations pertaining to your statute. 

  6. Notes of Decisions: summaries of cases that interpret your statute.
    • Notes of Decisions are similar in form and content to digest headnotes.
    • Notes of Decisions organize case summaries by topic.

NOTE: The only thing that is primary authority in the annotated codes is the statutory text. Everything else, including the Notes of Decisions, are offered by the publisher of the annotated codes to help you interpret the statute.  These annotations are not primary authority. They are merely things the publisher believes may help you research and understand the statute. 

Taken from the UCLA School of Law Legal Research and Writing Guide

What are Statutes?

Statutes: Session Laws