Categorized compendium of case law


''We will not rest until every citizen understands the law and 'all defenses and objections not entered are deemed waived' is tattooed across every person's forehead!''

(NOTE: Remember, when I first started doing legal research (via a massive reading of case law), there was no Internet, hyperlinks or general society-wide ownership of personal computers. For every page you read here, I probably had to read at least 50-100 pages to find that one useful page. The process is MUCH easier now, so don't be lazy. Do your homework!
It must also be noted that there are what is called the "holding" in a case, and what is called "dictum". "Holding" is the specific point that was decided by the case. "Dictum" is the philosophical discussion either justifying or opposing the holding. "Holdings" are the "rules" which are applied to the facts of a given case and theoretically control the outcome of the case. It is crucial to "Shepardize" a case to see if its holding has been criticized, followed, or outright overruled. You don't want to hang your hat on an overruled case and get laughed out of court by your opponent.
If you can find a currently valid holding which is directly "on point" — aka directly relevant — to the facts in your case, that is a huge plus in your favor. But if you are only trying to give yourself an education in the law, the dicta may be even more important, because it very often refer to common law maxims which are basically engraved in stone and virtually never go away or get overruled. For example let's take the sentence, "the court's exist to do justice". Well it's very handy to be able to cite where a famous U.S. Supreme Court justice said that than to present it as having been dreamed up by Joe Q. Average Pro Se trying to get out of a well-deserved parking ticket — if you get my drift.
Read all the cases — or at the very least their holdings — cited within a case, that's how you learn.
If you have a computer, I would suggest using the system of files, folders and documents to save and organize all your legal information, so you don't have to reinvent the wheel and redo hours of research just to rediscover a lost bit of information. Remember, the remarkable technological achievement of "copying and pasting" is one of the pro se's best friends!)

(RESEARCH HINT: A brief word on the early U.S. Supreme Court reporters. When I first started doing legal research, I would be confused by the difference between case cites such as "4 Wall." and "71 U.S." On Justia, the cases start with "U.S." at the very beginning, so you have to be able to interpret the cite. There were seven early reporters. I organized them thusly: 1-4 Dallas = 1-4 US; 1-9 Cranch = 5-13 US; 1-12 Wheaton = 14-25 US; 1-16 Peters = 26-41 US; 1-24 Howard = 42-65 US; 1-2 Black = 66-67 US; 1-23 Wallace = 68-90 US. So "5 Cranch" would be the same as "10 U.S"; "5 Wallace" would be the same as "73 US", and so on. Starting with William Tod Otto and "91 US", the practice of naming the reporter was generally discontinued in favor of the "US" cite, which is an abbreviation for "United States Reports". I like to be specific with the old cites, so I like to write the cites like this: "Chisolm v. Georgia, 2 US (2 Dallas) 419 (1793)" and "Marbury v. Madison, 5 US (1 Cranch) 137 (1803)". I like to always include the year in the cite, because it makes it easier for the reader.)


28 U.S.C. §453 Oaths of justices and judges

28 U.S.C. §1331 Federal question

28 U.S.C. §2201 Declaratory Judgment

42 U.S.C. §1983 Civil action for deprivation of rights


Abuse of power

Access to the courts

Affirmative defense

Amending Complaints

Attorney fee sanctions

Attorney performance standards

Bloggers - Courts are saying bloggers have the same 1st Amendment protections as professional "journalists" who are employed by the so-called "establishment" so-called "mainstream" media.

Cause of action

Certification of record on appeal

Collateral order doctrine

Colorado Child Support


Common law



Construction of statutes


Court Reporters

Due Process - (See also "Procedural due process" and "Substantive due process" farther down this list.)

Habeas relief



Miranda warnings - You have the constitutional right to remain silent

Police - Your constitutional right to not talk to them

Presumption of Innocence


Pro Se (Self-Represented) Litigants

Probable cause

Procedural due process

Pro Se (Self-Represented) Litigants

Reasonable doubt

Right to remain silent


Statutory construction

Substantive due process

Under construction . . . (NOTE: There are currently 120 categories ready to be added, so check back regularly to observe PSU's progress.)


Part 5/5 Edwin Vieira at Faneuil Hall Dec 14 2008

For your convenience, I transcribed Dr. Vieira's anecdote about how law is taught, and linked a PDF file HERE.