The law library offers the following dictionary to provide first year students with assistance with the basic understanding of legal terminology.

Advance Sheets:
Judicial decisions go through three stages of being printed: slip opinions, advance sheets, and the final bound reporter. Advance sheets are paperback books collecting several cases. The citations to the cases are generally what they will be when they appear in the final hard bound volume which is essentially published when the publisher has enough cases to make up the volume.
Annotated Code:
A version of a code (a subject compilation of laws) which in addition to the language of the law also contains references to law review articles, other relevant regulations or statutes, and, most importantly, summaries of cases which discuss or interpret the particular code section. The annotations are provided by the editors and are not a part of the official language of the code. United States Code Annotated, published by West, is an annotated version of the official United States Code published by the federal government. Most annotated codes are statutory. There are very few annotated regulatory codes.
Bluebook:
The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation is published by the Harvard Law Review and other leading law reviews and sets forth abbreviations and rules of citation for legal materials. It is the accepted standard in law school writing but not necessarily followed by courts or attorneys who may be required to follow local rules.
Case:
This is one of those terms that has several meanings. Technically, a case is a dispute between two or more parties. "Case" also refers to the opinion of a court and its ruling on a particular set of facts and legal issues. Thus your casebook for a class is a collection of opinions. Case, judgment, ruling, opinion, and decision are often used interchangeably.
Citation:
The reference which helps you identify a particular case, law review article, book, statute or other resource, whether primary or secondary. For example, the citation for Roe v. Wade is 410 US 959 (1973). The case appears in volume 410 of the official United States Reports beginning at page 959. The opinion was rendered in 1973. 42 USC 1983 is the citation for civil rights legislation which appears in title 42 of the United states Code at section 1983. See also parallel citation. The Bluebook will provide you with the rules on proper citation format.
Basic citations to know:
US -
United States Reports, the official reporter for US Supreme Court cases.
SCt -
Supreme Court Reporter, an unofficial reporter of US Supreme Court cases.
LEd2d -
Lawyers' Edition, an unofficial reporter of US Supreme Court cases.
USC -
United States Code, the official version of the federal statutory code.
USCA & USCS,
two unofficial, annotated versions of the federal statutory code.
CFR -
Code of Federal Regulations, the codified subject arrangement of current regulations issued by agencies of the executive branch of the federal government.
F, F2d, and F3d -
Federal Reporter, first second and third series. This is the reporter for opinions of the federal courts of appeals. Not all opinions are published.
F. Supp. -
The Federal Supplement is the reporter for published opinions of the federal district court, which is a trial court. Most opinions of the district courts are not published.
Cite:
Short for citation.
Civil:
Everything that is not criminal. Civil cases involve disputes not arising out of violation of criminal statutes. This will make more sense ( and get more complicated) later. Don't worry.
Code:
A systematic subject compilation of laws which may be statutory or regulatory. Statutes and regulations are initially published chronologically, as they are enacted. The code pulls together all the statutes or regulations on a particular subject such as the California Penal Code or Title 26 of the United States Code which is on taxation. Without codification, you would have to look through multiple volumes published over many years to find all the federal tax laws. Note that when people ask "What does the code say", they are generally referring to a statutory code.
Court/court (upper case/lower case):
When the word "court" by itself is capitalized in a sentence, it is generally referring to the United States Supreme Court. Lower case "court" refers to all other courts. When naming a specific court, such as the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the word court is capitalized.
Criminal law:
Relating to the laws of crimes, criminal law is everything which is not civil. We know this isn't a lot of help at this time, but don't worry. It willbecome easier and more complicated later.
Decision:
A ruling by a court which may or may not be explained by an opinion. However, when a professor asks you for the court's decision, she will be referring to the opinion and will want you to explain the ruling and not just state the final result.
Defendant:
The person against whom a law suit or prosecution has been brought. In a civil suit this is the person from whom a plaintiff seeks relief. In a criminal action, it is the accused.
Digests:
are finding tools which provide subject access to cases. They usually consist of several volumes containing summaries legal issues in cases organized pursuant to a subject outline.
Dissent:
A judge's disagreement with the majority of the court. Appellate court cases are heard by a panel of judges which can vary in number depending on the jurisdiction. A judge who disagrees with the majority ruling and opinion will often write a dissenting opinion explaining his or her reasons for disagreement.
Headnote:
Editors of published case reports include with the opinions a series of one paragraph summaries of the major issues (as seen by the editors) at the beginning of cases. These headnotes are not written by the judges and are not part of the opinion. In the West system, the headnotes include the topic and key number and contain the same language as the digest summary of the case. The West digest system provides a rearrangemet of these headnotes by subject.
Hornbook:
In modern usage Hornbook refers to treatises or secondary sources written for law students. They set forth the basic established principles of law for a given field and often explain how the law has developed. They often do not provide the critical analysis of cutting edge issues found in other scholarly treatises or law review articles but do provide more information that would be found in a legal encyclopedia. They are good starting points for research and the hornbooks on first year subjects are heavily used by students.
Index to Legal Periodicals and Books:
Also known as ILPB, this source has indexed articles in law reviews since the nineteenth century and books since 1994. In addition to a subject/author index, it has a table of cases and a table of statutes which allow you to locate articles on a particular case or statute. The volumes are not cumulative so you may need to check several to find the relevant articles. If you are looking for articles on a particular case, you should check all volumes since that case was decided and not just the volume published at the time of the decision. Authors will continue to write about major cases for years after the opinion was written.
Key number:
In the West digest system, the 400 plus topics which West believes all legal issues can be classified into are in turn subdivided. Each topic is outlined with the sub-topics numbered. These numbers are referred to as key numbers. Other digest systems number the sub-topics as well, but the "key number" phrase is a copyright of West.
Nutshell:
West Group, a major publisher of legal materials, has a series of paperback volumes on basic legal research subjects that are often used by students in their studies and research. These are referred to as the Nutshell series. Sample titles are Legal Research in a Nutshell and Contracts in a Nutshell. Most of these are on Reserve at the Circulation Desk.
Official code/reporter:
Cases, regulations and statutes are published electronically or in book format in either official or unofficial publications. Official publications are those which have been authorized by statute or governmental ruling. They are not necessarily published by the government itself. Unofficial publications, which have not been so sanctioned, often have additional research aids to help the user. For example, the Supreme Court Reporter is an unofficial version of US Supreme Court opinions while US Reports is official. Citation rules may require references to both official and unofficial versions or only one version.
Opinion:
The reasons given for a court's judgment, finding or conclusion. When a professor says "What's the opinion of the court?", she is referring to this majority opinion. A concurring opinion is by a justice who agrees with the ruling but for reasons different from the majority. Dissenting opinions are by justices who disagree with the ruling itself. Opinions may or may not be published.
Parallel citation:
Many documents such as cases and statutes are printed by more than one publisher. The opinions of the United States Supreme Court appear in print format in United States Reports (the official reporter), the United States Supreme Court Reporter (an unofficial reporter), and Lawyers Edition (another unofficial reporter). The text of the opinion will be the same in each of these printed formats although there may be different editorial notes. The citation for a case will be different in each reporter due to how the editors arrange the cases. For example, Roe v. Wade can be found at 410 US 113, 93 SCt 705 and 35 LEd2d 147. The citations are referred to as parallel citations. They provide you with the same document in different books.
Plaintiff:
The individual or organization who initiates a lawsuit by filing a complaint. In a criminal action it is the government.
Pocket part:
Pocket parts are pamphlets inserted into a pocket usually in the back but sometimes in the front of a book which update the information in the book itself. They are most often found in statutory codes, digests, and encyclopedias. It is absolutely essential that you check the pocket part if you are using a volume that has one. The pocket part in digests will give you additional cases on your topic. Pocket parts in codes will tell you whether your code section has been amended or repealed since the main volume was published.
Precedent:
An existing opinion, usually published, which because of its similar facts and legal issues, serves to guide a court in the case before it. Our common law system is based upon precedent. Courts will want to look to principles established in earlier cases. Those decisions which involve similar facts or legal issues serve to guide a court and are regarded as precedent.
Primary Sources:
The actual law itself whether statutory, administrative (regulations) or case law. The United States Code is a primary source. A book discussing and explaining the code is a secondary source. See Secondary sources.
Regulation:
Rule or order issued by an agency of the executive branch of government which has the force of law. Regulations must be authorized by the statute and generally provide more details on a particular subject than does the authorizing statute. The CFR is the Code of Federal Regulations, the subject compilation of current regulations currently which are initially published chronologically in the Federal Register.
Restatement:
several volumes produced by the American Law Institute and authored by legal scholars and experts that set forth statements of major areas of law (as contracts, torts, trusts, and property) and are widely referred to in jurisprudence but are not binding.
Reporter:
Court opinions from a particular court or group of courts are published in books referred to as reporters. Reporters may be official or unofficial.
Ruling:
The ruling of a court is its order or judgment whether on a particular issue or the final verdict. In administrative law a ruling is an interpretation of a regulation.
Secondary Authority/Source:
Materials that explain, analyze and interpret primary authority or sources. Examples are law review articles, encyclopedias, and books. These sources can lead you to key primary sources as well as other secondary sources.
Slip opinion:
Slip opinions are the first stage of the printed format for judicial opinions. Usually, the opinions from a case are first issued as slip opinions, pamphlets containing the court's opinion along with any dissenting and concurring opinions. These are issued by the court, and do not have the enhancements of headnotes, nor do they have their final official or unofficial citations. The opinions will be reprinted in advance sheets when enough exist to make up an issue. These in turn will be cumulated into the final bound volumes.
Statute:
The written enactment from a legislative body, whether federal or state. Federal statutes are published chronologically (in the order they are enacted) in Statutes at Large and are then codified (statutes currently in force organized by subject) in the United States Code.
Supreme Court:
The court level of a "supreme court" varies by jurisdiction. In most jurisdictions, including the federal, the supreme court is the highest court or court of last resort. In New York, the Supreme Court is the name for the trial court while the highest court is the Court of Appeals.
Table of Cases:
A table of cases in a periodical index will help you locate articles which have been written about particular cases. In a digest, the table of cases helps you identify the citation for the case when you know one or both of the parties' names.
Treatises:
Scholarly secondary sources which provide you an analysis of the law in an area, the background to the law's development, and more detailed examples to the various possible alternative developments for a particular area. They will often argue the direction the law should be developed, pushing it to the cutting edge. How respected or authoritative a particular treatise is will depend on the respect a court will have that author.
Unannotated code:
The subject compilation of statutes or regulations that contains just the language of the law. It does not contain references to secondary sources or summaries of cases discussing the various code sections.
Uniform Laws:
compilations of laws sponsored by the National Conference of commissioners on Uniform State Laws and are proposed to all state legislatures for their consideration and adoption. Some uniform laws are passed by only a few states; others are passed by all states with minor differences in language.
Unofficial code/reporter:
A published version of case opinions or laws not authorized or sanctioned by statute or ruling, as is an official version. The language of the opinions and usually the codes are identical in both official and unofficial versions if both exist. Unofficial versions may contain research aids or commentary not available in official versions. These include the annotations in annotated codes and the headnotes from case reporters.