University of Wisconsin–Madison

Locating Briefs 101

With first year Legal Research and Writing students learning how to draft briefs this semester, profiling the UW Law Library's brief collection and other related resources seems in order. Locating briefs can be a daunting research experience, so do not hesitate to ask for guidance at the reference desk. Scanned images of briefs (created by the Wisconsin State Law Library) are available on the Law Library's web site. The Wisconsin Brief database consists of briefs for published Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals cases as well as unpublished Court of Appeals cases from 173 Wis.2d (1992) to 291 Wis.2d ( 2006). When searching this database, simply enter the docket number or the case citation. Access to recent briefs or briefs from pending cases may be requested at the Wisconsin State Law Library. For more details refer to the About Wisconsin Briefs link on our web page. Case briefs from the 1941 - 1992 era (238 Wis. Reports through volume 275 and 1 Wis. 2d through 172 Wis.2d.) are available in the Law Library's microform collection. The microfilm reader / printer work stations offer a scanning option to send pdf copies to your personal computer desktop. Due to space limitations older, bound briefs covering volumes 9 through 275 are housed at the campus storage facility. Use the "place request" feature on MadCat for retrieval and expect turn-around time to be one - two business days. If you are looking for briefs to U.S. Supreme Court cases, there are two important holdings to check in the library. The first title includes documents back to 1832: Records and Briefs, U.S. Supreme Court [microform collection, 2nd floor]. The second title, Landmark Briefs and Arguments of the Supreme Court of the U.S. : Constitutional Law, dates back to 1793 but is selective in that it only includes 'landmark' cases in a given term [Reference Collection, KF101.8 K87] . Besides these two titles, live audio of oral arguments may be found online at . Additionally, audio of oral arguments from selected cases ranging from 1955 to 2001 may be heard on the cd-rom set, The Supreme Court's Greatest Hits, [Circulation Desk KF101.9 U55 2002]. Lexis / Nexis and Westlaw also provide online access to federal brief databases. The Law Library has numerous books to help you write better briefs. Try running a search in the MadCat Library Catalog using these suggested subject headings: Legal briefs, Oral pleading, Appellate practice or Amici curiae. If you prefer to browse, head to the stacks on level three - south using the general call number KF 251. More recent editions of these books will be found on reserve at the circulation desk.

Submitted by Cheryl O'Connor on March 11, 2008

This article appears in the categories: Law Library

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