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50-State Surveys & Statutory Compilations

This guide provides instruction on 50-state surveys and statutory subject compilations.

Overview

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:

  1. the fact that codes collate original laws with later amendments,
  2. they bring all laws on the same subject together, and
  3. they eliminate repealed, superseded, or expired laws.

In addition to the statutes, many codes contain constitutions and court rules.

Code Organization

The structure and organization of statutory codes will vary by jurisdiction. 

Federal

The United States Code, the subject arrangement of federal statutes, is arranged  by subject  into 54 subject titles (title 53 is in reserve and does not yet have a subject assigned to it), with chapter and section subdivisions.  Of the 54 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.

State

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

State Codes with Subjects:

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.

Where Codes Are Published

Federal

Official (unannotated)

United States Code (U.S.C.)

  • The USC is published every six years with cumulative bound supplements issued in between editions. Publication typically runs several years behind.

Unofficial (annotated)

State

Publication of state codes will vary. The Law Library's state codes are located on the 4th floor with the other state materials at call numbers KFA through KFZ. Note that most of the print codes are no longer being updated.

Ohio

Ohio does not publish an official version of the Ohio Revised Code, instead unofficial versions of the code are published. 

Finding a Code by Citation

Retrieving  a statute by legal citation is the easiest and fastest way to get the specific case to which the citation refers.

Example of a United States Code citation:

42 (title) U.S.C. (Code abbreviation) Section 1983 (2006)

Suppose our citation was for 42 U.S.C.§ 1983 and I wanted to find this statute in print.

  1. I would first find the United States Code, United States Code Annotated, or United States Code Service in the UC Law Library print collection.
  2. Then I would find the volume or volumes containing title 42. 
  3. Next I would look for the section 1983 within the appropriate volume.

To find this statute online:

  • Westlaw:  type the 42 U.S.C.A. 1983 in the search box at the top of the screen.
  • Lexis:  type the 42 U.S.C.S. 1983 in the search box at the top of the screen.

A word about retrieving state statutes by citation online:

  • Lexis and Westlaw can be picky about the format for state statute citations and that format does not necessarily follow Bluebook form. Your best bet is to begin typing the statute citation.
  • In Westlaw, putting the state postal abbreviation in front of your section will usually work:  OH St 3503.06.

CALI Lesson on Codifcation of Statutes

CALI LogoAvailable to Law Students only (see a reference librarian if you do not have a CALI activation code).

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