Secondary legal sources provide comment, discussion, and explanation of primary authorities and, more importantly, help you locate primary authorities. Unlike primary resources, they are not the law itself.
Consulting secondary sources can complement your legal research, for several reasons:
1) By providing summaries of legal principles and overviews of legal theories and doctrines you can research unfamiliar legal topics.
2) Secondary sources often provide extensive, nuanced discussion of complex, unusual, or emerging topics.
3) Many secondary sources contain numerous citations to primary law, so they can help you identify leading cases and statues.
Types of secondary sources include:
Law reviews and journals
Statues and Legislative History
You can retrieve federal or state code sections easily if you have the citation of them from a secondary source or from a case. You can always search the code to find the sections. Another resource you can tap into are legal databases.
You may retrieve citations to case law from relevant journal articles or books (secondary sources) which usually discuss, analyze, and cite leading cases. Use the articles bibliographies to find other relevant cases and journal articles.
Another excellent source for finding legal cases are indexes. Indexes will include journal articles, book chapters, bills, laws, court decisions, reports, books, audiovisuals, and news articles relating to specific identified subject mater. Some excellent bioethics indexes are:
Resources for state legislation and laws can be found on individual state government sites. You can find sites that will give you links to each individual states government sites such as this: Find Law
Resources for North Dakota:
Attorney General Opinions - Formal opinions to certain government officials on questions of law that relate to their governmental duties.
North Dakota Supreme Court Decisions - The latest written opinions from North Dakota's highest court.
North Dakota Constitution - The Constitution of the State of North Dakota, Understand the functions and powers of North Dakota government and the rights of its citizens.
Legislature: Bill Information - Bills, Resolutions & Journals from the North Dakota State Legislatre.
North Dakota Administrative Code - The Administrative Code of North Dakota.
North Dakota Century Code - The North Dakota Century Code from the North Dakota Legislative Branch.
State Legislature - The official site of the North Dakota Legislature.
U.S. Court of Appeals (8th Circuit) Opinions - Opinions and resources from the Court.
State Court Opinions
North Dakota Court Information - Learn about the North Dakota court system and find your local courthouse.
North Dakota Supreme Court Opinions - Provides access to North Dakota Supreme Court opinions; includes links to cases since 1996, case citation rules.
North Dakota Bills - Bill summary and status from the Library of Congress.
This resource Guide to Law Online is prepared by the Public Services Division of the Law Library of Congress, the Guide provides links to online sources of information on government and law. It links to reliable sites that include: International and Multinational; Nations of the World; U.S. Federal; U.S. States and Territories, ect.
Primary legal sources are official pronouncements of the law by the executive, legislative, and judicial branch. The key primary authorities are cases, constitutions, statutes, and administrative regulations. Thus, primary sources are the products of official bodies with the authority to make law.
Federal Regulations and Statues
The Code of Federal Regulations is the codification of the regulations published in the Federal Register by executive departments and agencies of the federal government. The CFR is divided into 50 titles that represent broad subject areas. Statues relating to bioethics are generally included in Titles 21 and 42 of the United States Code.
Issues involving bioethics are current, controversial, and often under consideration by the House and Senate, U.S. Congressional reports and pending legislation can be essential to your research. You can find legislative materials through Congress.gov or through the library of Congress Thomas resource. Thomas provides the full text of Public Laws back to 1989. Under Thomas' Bill Summary & Status, there is access to the text of bill digests back to 1973.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the principal federal agency charged with protecting public health. HHS oversees a wide variety of tasks and services, including research, public health, food and drug safety, health insurance, and many others.