State Briefs

State Briefs in the United States

A “Brief” is a legal argument written by an attorney and filed with a court to support or oppose a motion, complaint, answer, reply or other pleading. Briefs are filed in both Federal and state court cases.

For more information on finding court records, click here and, in case of U.S. Federal court records and briefs, here.

State Courts Briefs Legal Materials

Briefs are sometimes posted free on a court’s web site. Briefs may also be available through a Court’s online docket system; see the “Docket Sheets” entry in this Guide.

If that doesn’t work, use one or two good search engines to see if someone else has posted the brief.

Westlaw has databases for briefs filed in state appellate courts. The database identifier is generally xx-BRIEF or xx-BRIEF-ALL, with the “xx” being the state’s postal abbreviation.

Selected briefs are available through Courtlink and Bloomberg Law.

Selected briefs from both trial and appellate courts are published by Westlaw Journalsand Mealey’s; search their Web sites to see what’s available. Note: Mealey’s reports are also available on Lexis.

If the brief is not available online, you can always get copies from the court (or the court’s archives, for older cases). In addition, in many states, appellate briefs are available on microfilm in large government and academic law libraries. If necessary you can try calling one of the attorneys on the case.

For more sources, see the entry for the state by name in this Guide (e.g., “California,” “New York”). If the case was filed by a government agency, see also the entry for that agency. See also “Docket Sheets.”

Finding U.S. State Court Records & Briefs

Legal researchers often review the records and briefs of a case for insights into the legal reasoning and authorities used by the parties in advocating their positions. The records of a case may include pleadings, motions, trial transcripts, orders, instructions to juries, judgments and other materials. What is actually included in the published record for each case varies widely.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Records and Briefs of the Supreme Judicial Court (Microfilm)
Years Covered: 1914 to present
Location: Microform Room Drawers 997-1009
Contents: Records and briefs from cases receiving a full opinion reported in volume 219 of the Massachusetts Reports or higher. Materials are filed alphabetically by case name according to volume. (Currently two years out of date.)

Massachusetts Appeals Court Records and Briefs (Microfilm)
Years Covered: 1972 to present
Location: Microform Room Drawers 1011-1018
Contents: This set covers the records and briefs for cases receiving a full opinion reported in the Massachusetts Appeals Court Reports. They are filed alphabetically by case name according to volume. The set is currently three years out of date.

Westlaw Massachusetts Briefs Multibase
Westlaw Massachusetts Briefs
Westlaw Massachusetts Court of Appeals Briefs
Westlaw Massachusetts Petitions
Years Covered: 1990 to present (selective).
Contents: Petitions and briefs filed with the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts as well as briefs filed with the Court of Appeals of Massachusetts. Plain text with some pdf.

Arkansas

Westlaw Arkansas Briefs
Westlaw Arkansas Supreme Court Briefs
Westlaw Arkansas Court of Appeals Briefs
Years Covered: 2002 to present.
Contents: All briefs filed with the Arkansas Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, 2002 to present. Includes some closed cases. Plain text with some pdf.

California

Westlaw California Briefs Multibase
Westlaw California Supreme Court Briefs
Westlaw California Supreme Court Briefs Extension
Westlaw California Supreme Court Petitions
Westlaw California Court of Appeals Briefs
Westlaw California Court of Appeals Petitions
Westlaw California Recall Election Briefs
Years Covered: 1986 to present (selective)
Contents: Briefs filed for cases that are scheduled to be argued in front of the California Supreme Court, with selected coverage from 1987 to present. Petitions from the California Supreme Court , with selected coverage from 1993 to present. Selected coverage of briefs from the California Court of Appeals, 1986 to present. Petitions from the California Court of Appeal with selected coverage from 1997 to present. California Recall Election briefs are from 2003. Plain text with some pdf.

Colorado

Westlaw Colorado Briefs Multibase
Westlaw Colorado Supreme Court Briefs
Westlaw Colorado Supreme Court Petitions
Years Covered: 1990 to present (selective)
Contents: Selected briefs filed in cases that are scheduled for argument before the Colorado Supreme Court. Selected Petitions filed with the Colorado Supreme Court. Plain text with some pdf.

Delaware

Westlaw Delaware Briefs
Years Covered: 2004 to present.
Contents: Briefs filed with the Delaware Supreme Court. Plain text with some pdf.
Florida

Westlaw Florida Briefs All
Westlaw Florida Supreme Court Briefs
Westlaw Florida Supreme Court Jurisdiction Briefs
Years Covered: 1993 to present (selective).
Contents: Selected briefs filed in cases scheduled for argument before the Florida Supreme Court. Selected Briefs on Jurisdiction filed with Florida Supreme Court. Briefs on Jurisdiction are filed in cases invoking the Florida Supreme Court’s discretionary jurisdiction and are limited to the issue of jurisdiction. Plain text with some pdf.

Georgia

Westlaw Georgia Briefs Multibase
Westlaw Georgia Briefs
Westlaw Georgia Supreme Court Petitions
Years Covered: 1990 to present (selective).
Contents: Selected briefs filed in cases that are scheduled for argument before the Georgia Supreme Court. Selected petitions filed with the Georgia Supreme Court are included. Plain text with some pdf.

Idaho

Westlaw Idaho Briefs
Years Covered: 1990 to present (selective).
Contents: Briefs filed with the Idaho Supreme Court, including briefs filed with the Idaho Supreme Court that under Rule 10 of the Idaho Rules of Appellate Procedure can be assigned by the Supreme Court to either the Idaho Supreme Court or the Idaho Court of Appeals. Plain text with some pdf.

Illinois

Westlaw Illinois Briefs Multibase
Westlaw Illinois Briefs
Westlaw Illinois Supreme Court Briefs
Westlaw Illinois Supreme Court Petitions
Westlaw Illinois Appellate Court Briefs
Years Covered: 1990 to present (selective).
Contents: Selected briefs filed in cases that are scheduled for argument before the Illinois Supreme Court and the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District (Cook County). Petitions filed with the Illinois Supreme Court. Plain text.

Kansas

Westlaw Kansas Briefs
Westlaw Kansas Supreme Court Briefs
Westlaw Kansas Court of Appeals Briefs
Years Covered: 1994 to present (selective).
Contents: Briefs filed in cases scheduled to be argued before the Kansas Supreme Court or the Kansas Court of Appeals, 1997 to present. Briefs filed in cases scheduled to be argued before the Kansas Court of Appeals, selective coverage from 1994 to present. Plain text with some pdf.

Kentucky

Westlaw Kentucky Briefs
Years Covered: 1997 to present (selective).
Contents: Briefs filed in cases scheduled to be argued before the Kentucky Supreme Court. Plain text with some pdf.

Maryland

Westlaw Maryland Briefs
Westlaw Maryland Court of Appeals Briefs
Westlaw Maryland Court of Special Appeals Briefs
Years Covered: 1995 to present (selective).
Contents: Briefs filed in cases scheduled to be argued before the Maryland Court of Appeals and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. Plain text.

Michigan

Westlaw Michigan Briefs
Years Covered: 2002 to present.
Contents: Briefs filed in cases scheduled to be argued before the Michigan Supreme Court. Plain text with some pdf.

Minnesota

Westlaw Minnesota Briefs
Westlaw Minnesota Supreme Court Briefs
Westlaw Minnesota Court of Appeals Briefs
Years Covered: 2001 to present (some selective coverage from years prior to 2001).
Contents: Briefs filed with Minnesota Supreme Court and the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Plain text with some pdf.

Mississippi

Westlaw Mississippi Briefs
Years Covered: 2000 to present (selective).
Contents: Briefs filed with the Mississippi Supreme Court, including briefs filed with the Mississippi Supreme Court for cases that, under Rule 16 of the Mississippi Rules of Appellate Procedure, may be assigned by the Supreme Court, to either the Mississippi Supreme Court or the Mississippi Court of Appeals. Plain text with some pdf.

Missouri

Westlaw Missouri Briefs
Years Covered: 2003 to present (selective).
Contents: Briefs filed in cases scheduled to be argued before the Missouri Supreme Court. Plain text with some pdf.

Montana

Westlaw Montana Briefs
Years Covered: 1999 to present, with selective coverage for previous years.
Contents: Briefs filed with the Montana Supreme Court. Plain text with some pdf.

New York

New York Court of Appeals Records and Briefs (Microfilm)
Years Covered: 1939 to present
Location: Microform Room Drawers 146-154, 170
Contents: This microfilm set covers briefs and records for those cases receiving a full opinion reported in the New York Reports beginning with volume 265. After volume 84 N.Y.2d, there is a gap in coverage to volume 87, at which point the set changed form from film to fiche. The briefs are organized by New York Reports citation. The set is currently six months out of date.

Westlaw New York Court of Appeals Briefs
Years Covered: 1990 to present (selective)
Contents: Selected merit briefs filed in cases that are scheduled for argument before the New York Court of Appeals. Plain text with some pdf.

HeinOnline New York Court of Appeals Records and Briefs
Years Covered: 1 N.Y.3d 1 to 7 N.Y.3d 830-01
Contents: Includes records and briefs in pdf format from cases reported in the New York Reports.

North Carolina

Westlaw North Carolina Briefs
Westlaw North Carolina Briefs Multibase
Westlaw North Carolina Supreme Court Briefs
Westlaw North Carolina Supreme Court Petitions
Westlaw North Carolina Appellate Court Briefs
Years Covered: 1990 to present.
Contents: Briefs and Petitions filed in cases with the North Carolina Supreme Court and briefs filed with the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Plain text with some pdf.

North Dakota

Westlaw North Dakota Briefs
Years Covered: 2003 to present (selective).
Contents: Briefs filed in cases scheduled to be argued before the North Dakota Supreme Court. Plain text with some pdf.

Ohio

Westlaw Ohio Briefs Multibase
Westlaw Ohio Briefs
Westlaw Ohio Jurisdictional Briefs
Years Covered: 1990 to present (selective.)
Contents: Briefs, including jurisdictional briefs filed with the Ohio Supreme Court. Plain text with some pdf.

Pennsylvania

Westlaw Pennsylvania Briefs
Westlaw Pennsylvania Supreme Court Briefs
Westlaw Pennsylvania Superior Court Briefs
Westlaw Commonwealth Court Briefs
Years Covered: 1990 to present (selective)
Contents: Selected briefs filed in cases scheduled to be argued before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court or the Pennsylvania Superior Court or the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. Plain text with some pdf.

South Dakota

Westlaw South Dakota Briefs
Years Covered: 2000 to present. Selective briefs may be available for years prior to 2000.
Contents: Briefs filed in cases scheduled to be argued before the South Dakota Supreme Court. Plain text with some pdf.

Texas

Westlaw Texas Briefs
Westlaw Texas Supreme Court Briefs
Westlaw Texas Supreme Court Petitions
Westlaw Texas Briefs and Petitions Multibase
Westlaw Texas Petitions Multibase
Westlaw Texas Court of Appeals Briefs
Westlaw Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Briefs
Westlaw Texas Criminal Court of Appeals Petitions
Years Covered: 1990 to present (selective).
Contents: Selected merit briefs filed in cases scheduled to be argued before the Texas Supreme Court. Texas Court of Appeals, and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Petitions from the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Plain text with some pdf.

Utah

Westlaw Utah Briefs
Years Covered: 2001 to present. Very selective coverage for years prior to 2001.
Contents: Briefs filed in cases scheduled to be argued before the Utah Supreme Court. Plain text with some pdf.

Wisconsin

Westlaw Wisconsin Briefs
Westlaw Wisconsin Supreme Court Briefs
Westlaw Wisconsin Appellate Court Briefs
Years Covered: 1993 to present (selective)
Contents: Selected briefs filed in cases that are scheduled for argument before the Wisconsin Supreme Court or the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. Plain text with some pdf.

Multistate

Westlaw State Briefs All
Years Covered: 1970 to present (varies by state)
Contents: All state briefs available on Westlaw. Plain text with some pdf.

Resources

See Also

  • Andrews Litigation Reporters
  • Docket Sheets
  • Amicus Brief
  • Bench Memorandum or Bench Brief
  • Brandeis Brief
  • Case Brief
  • Letter Brief
  • Memorandum Brief
  • Trial Brief
  • Table of Authorities
  • Document Retrieval Services
  • Forms
  • Mealey’s Litigation Reports
  • Petitions

State Briefs: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about State Briefs. This part provides references, in relation to State Briefs, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about State Briefs by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about State Briefs and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about State Briefs or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to State Briefs and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting State Briefs. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about State Briefs should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to State Briefs when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

*This resource guide is updated frequently. However, if you notice something is wrong or not working, or any resources that should be added, please notify us in any of the "Leave a Comment" area.

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