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Minnesota Law Research Guide

Case Law & Slip Opinions

Case law refers to the decisions issued by judicial courts. In most jurisdictions, including Minnesota, only the decisions of appellate courts are disseminated. The appellate courts for Minnesota are the Court of Appeals (intermediate appellate court) and the Supreme Court (court of last resort). Minnesota trial courts are called District Courts. Although the District Courts issue findings at the conclusion of trials, these findings are only available directly from the courts (see Court Records and Briefs below). 

Slip Opinions

Cases decided by the Minnesota Court of Appeals and Minnesota Supreme Court are published first as separate documents known as "slip opinions." Slip opinions are available from the Minnesota Judicial Branch website:

Case Reporters in Print & Online

Soon after slip opinions are issued, these opinions are published chronologically in bound sets called "case reporters." In Minnesota the official case reporter, North Western Reporter, is published by Thomson Reuters and is available in print and online on Westlaw and WestlawNext and other online sources (see below).

The volumes of the North Western Reporter are published in successive series. The first series is North Western Reporter (abbreviated: N.W.) and contains Minnesota Supreme Court opinions from 1851 - 1941. The second series of North Western Reporter (abbreviated: N.W. 2d) contains Minnesota Supreme Court opinions from 1941 to current. It also includes Minnesota Court of Appeals opinions from that court's inception in 1983 to current.

Note, prior to 1978, the State of Minnesota published the official version of Minnesota Supreme Court opinions in the case reporter, Minnesota Reports. In 1978 the State ceased publication of Minnesota Reports and designated North Western Reporter as the state's official case reporter.

Online Sources for Minnesota Cases

Subscription Databases:

Open Website Access

Finding Case Law & Case Citators

To find cases by topic, try using these resources, available in print and online (U of M subscription databases)

Case Law Citator Services

Bloomberg Law, Lexis Advanced, Westlaw Edge and WestlawNext Campus Research all offer a case citator service as part of their full-text case law database offerings.

Case Records: Dockets, Briefs, etc.

For information on locating case records, including dockets, briefs and other documents for Minnesota District Court, Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, consult the Minnesota State Courts section of our Case Records & Briefs Research Guide

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