A code is a subject arrangement of the laws of a jurisdiction. There are official and unofficial codes. A code may be annotated (containing editorial enhancements to help with research or interpretation) or unannotated. The advantages of using a code for research include:
In addition to the statutes, many codes contain constitutions and court rules.
Retrieving a statute by legal citation is the easiest and fastest way to get the specific case to which the citation refers.
Suppose our citation was for 42 U.S.C.§ 1983 and I wanted to find this statute online:
The structure and organization of statutory codes will vary by jurisdiction.
The United States Code, the subject arrangement of federal statutes, is arranged by subject into 51 subject titles, with chapter and section subdivisions. Of the 51 titles, the following titles have been enacted into positive (statutory) law: 1, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 17, 18, 23, 28, 31, 32, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 44, 46, 49, 51, and 54. When a title of the Code is enacted into positive law, the text of the title becomes legal evidence of the law. Titles that have not been enacted into positive law are only prima facie evidence of the law. In that case, the Statutes at Large still govern.
When looking at a code section, you will see the text of the section, then historical notes, the Statutes at Large citation, and references to related code sections.
In Ohio, the statutes are broadly organized by titles (there are 33) and then further broken down by articles, chapters, and sections. For more information on Ohio codes, see the Ohio Legal Research Guide.
Some states, such as California, Maryland, New York, and Texas, use subject words for their broader organization. If you look in Table 1 of the Bluebook or Appendix 1 of ALWD under one of those jurisdictions, they will give you the subject break downs. You actually include those subjects in your citation.
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