Finding Cases and Statutes by Citation
Any reference to any primary law source – case or statute – has a citation. The basic format of a citation is standardized, and generally includes a volume number, an abbreviation of the title of the publication in which the law appears, a page or section number, and a date.
Court cases are often published by more than one publisher, so there can be more than one citation appearing after the name of the case. Usually the first citation given is to the official reports for a particular court, and is called the “official citation.” The official reports are printed by the publisher with which that court has contracted to distribute cases.
In California the official reports of California Supreme Court cases are published in the California Reports (1st – 5th series) and the official reports of Courts of Appeal cases are published in the California Appellate Reports (1st – 5th series).
The other citations given in a string are known as “unofficial” or “parallel” citations. The text of the opinion is the same in all sources, whether they are “official” or “unofficial.”
The following are examples of citations to the California Supreme Court and the California Court of Appeals’ cases.
California Supreme Court
California Court of Appeals
California Supreme Court cases have two parallel citations. The first is to the Pacific Reporter, and the second is to the California Reporter, which started in 1959. Court of Appeals cases have only one parallel citation, to the California Reporter.
California Statutes or United States Codes
The terms “statute” and “code” are often used interchangeably. There are two publishers of the annotated California Codes: West (now known as Thomson Reuters) and Deering (published by LexisNexis). The wording of the Codes is identical in either publication; the only difference is in the annotations that follow each section.
The following are examples of citations for California and United States Codes:
List of California Statutory Abbreviations
California codes contain state law (statutes) in 29 separate series, each covering a general topic (e.g. – Education, Insurance, etc.). Some legal citations use the full name of the code, while others use abbreviations.
|Cal. Code||Code Abbreviation|
|Business and Professions||Bus. & Prof. or B&P|
|Civil||Civ. or C.C.|
|Civil Procedure||Civ.Proc. or C.C.P.|
|Education||Educ. or Ed.|
|Fish and Game||Fish & Game|
|Food and Agricultural||Food & Agric.|
|Harbors and Navigation||Harb. & Nav.|
|Health and Safety||Health & Safety or H&S|
|Military and veterans||Mil. & Vet.|
|Penal||Penal or P.C.|
|Public Contact||Pub. Cont.|
|Public Resources||Pub. Res.|
|Public Utilities||Pub. Util.|
|Revenue and Taxation||Rev. & Tax.|
|Streets and Highways||Sts. & High.|
|Welfare and Institutions||Welf. & Inst. or W&I|
California Code of Regulations: CCR (formerly the California Administrative Code), also cited as Cal. Code Regs.
The California Building Standards Code, Title 24 serves as the basis for the design and construction of buildings in California is maintained by the Building Standards Commission. It is also known as California Code of Regulations, Title 24, parts 1-12.
For legal abbreviations not listed, see: Prince’s Bieber Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations: a Reference Guide for Attorneys, Legal Secretaries, Paralegals, and Law Students KF 246 .B46.
List of Common Abbreviations in Law
|A., A.2d, A.3d||Atlantic Reporter, First, Second and Third Series|
|A.L.R., A.L.R. 2d , A.L.R. 3d, A.L.R.
4th, A.L.R. 5th, A.L.R. 6th, A.L.R. 7th
|American Law Reports: First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Series|
|A.L.R. Fed, A.L.R. Fed 2d
A.L.R. Fed 3d
|American Law Reports, Federal; First, Second, and Third Series|
|Am. Jur., Am. Jur.2d||American Jurisprudence, First and Second Series|
|C. or Cal. ,C.2d or Cal. 2d,
C.3d or Cal. 3d,
|California Reports, First, Second, Third and Fourth Series|
|C.C.R., or Cal. Code Regs.||California Code of Regulations|
|CEB||Continuing Education of the Bar|
|C.J.S.||Corpus Juris Secundum|
|CA or Cal. App; CA2d or Cal. App.2d;
CA3d or Cal. App.3d; CA4th or Cal. App.4th; CA5th or Cal. App.5th
|California Appellate Reports, First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Series|
|Cal. Jur, Cal. Jur. 2d, Cal. Jur. 3d||California Jurisprudence, First, Second and Third Series|
|Cal. Rptr., Cal. Rptr. 2d, Cal. Rptr. 3d||California Reporter (West’s), First, Second and Third Series|
|C.F.R.||Code of Federal Regulations|
|F., F.2d, F.3d||Federal Reporter, First, Second and Third Series|
|Fed. Reg.||Federal Register|
|F.R.D.||Federal Rules Decisions|
|F. Supp., F. Supp. 2d
F. Supp. 3d
|Federal Supplement, First, Second and Third Series|
|L. Ed., L. Ed. 2d||Lawyers’ Edition, U.S. Supreme Court Reports,
First and Second Series
|N.E. & N.E.2d||Northeastern Reporter, First and Second Series|
|N.W. & N.W.2d||Northwestern Reporter, First and Second Series|
|P., P.2d, P.3d||Pacific Reporter, First, Second, and Third Series|
|So., So. 2d, So. 3d||Southern Reporter, First, Second, and Third Series|
|S.E. & S.E.2d||Southeastern Reporter, First and Second Series|
|S.W., S.W.2d, S.W.3d||Southwestern Reporter, First, Second and Third Series|
|S. Ct.||Supreme Court Reports (West’s)|
|U.S.||United States Reports|
|U.S.C.||United States Code|
|U.S.C.A.||United States Code Annotated (West’s)|
|U.S.C.S.||United States Code Service (Lexis)|
This material is intended as general information only. Your case may have factors requiring different procedures or forms. The information and instructions are provided for use in the Sacramento County Superior Court. Please keep in mind that each court may have different requirements. If you need further assistance consult a lawyer.