Case law is the law of reported judicial opinions. Opinions are also known as reports or decisions. NOT all opinions published; trial court opinions are seldom published. A reported judicial opinion may include: majority or plurality opinion, concurrences or dissents, and a prefatory syllabus.
"Stare Decisis" (or precedent) is the basic concept of case law (common law) in which courts look to statutes and regulations and prior court decisions to formulate opinions. One method of determining prior law is to "Shepardize" a citation, using the Shepard's Citations volumes.
West view of the Supreme Court building, with cherry blossoms. Supreme Court of the United States website.
Bound volumes of U.S. Reports
LexisNexis Academic (Library Databases) offers keyword searching and in many situations replaces using a digest.
B.A., History. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 1973.
M.S., Library Science. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 1981.
Example of citation to a court reporter, formatted as a universal citation. From AALL publication Universal Citation Guide, Version 2.1.