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Criminal Justice

This guide provides access to criminal justice library resources.

Library Databases for Legal Research

Interpreting Legal Citations


United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220, 125 S. Ct. 738, 160 L. Ed. 2d 621 (2005)

  • In this citation, the names of the parties are United States and Booker; thus, the case name is United States v. Booker.  Typically the plaintiff is listed first, and the defendant second.
  • The next part of the citation tells you where to locate it.  This citation tells us that this case is reported in volume 543 of the United States Reports (abbreviated U.S.) and that the case begins on page 220.  This is the official citation for this case. 
  • Most cases are reported in more than one place.  The official citation will always be listed first, and then followed by citations for anywhere else that case was reported.  For instance, this case was also published in the Supreme Court Reporter (S.Ct.), and in the United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers’ Edition (L. Ed. 2d).  The parallel citations give the volume and page number for where you would find this case in those sources.
  • The citation will also give you the year that a decision was reached: in this case, 2005.
  • Sometimes you will encounter the symbol § which means “Section”.  When searching Lexis-Nexis, replace the symbol with SECTION or SEC (so 5 USCS § 5901 becomes 5 USCS SEC 5901). 

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Still have questions? View our latest workshop presentation slides for "Citing Legal Materials in Bluebook/APA Style."