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California Primary Law


Legal research materials are generally classified as being either one of two types of sources:  primary or secondary.  Primary sources are "the law" itself, which we are bound to follow.   Secondary sources are materials about the law; they explain and help us to find "the law" in a given situation. Although secondary sources, sometimes called "persuasive authority," are very useful in legal research, and courts often consider them, no one is legally bound by them.  An example of primary law is Deering's California Codes Annotated. This multi-volume set contains California's statutes, codified (organized by subject) into 29 titles. An example of a secondary source is A Summary of California Law by B.E. Witkin, a critical examination of California law.  While Witkin's analysis is highly regarded and often cited by California courts, it is not "the law."

The purpose of this guide is to identify all of the California primary law resources in the Law Library's collection.  Primary Law includes materials such as constitutions and charters, statutes and ordinances, legislative documents, court opinions (cases) and rules of court, and administrative decisions and regulations. The Law Library has the majority of these materials in print or online in Westlaw Next, and provides access to many of them via the Internet. While Westlaw Next may only be used in the Law Library, California law available on the Internet is freely accessible from almost anywhere.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. STATUTES  

II. REGULATIONS

III. COURT RULES

IV. COURT OPINIONS (CASES) 

V. ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS

STATUTES

California Statutes

California statutes begin as chaptered bills. A bill is "chaptered" by the Secretary of State after it has passed through both houses of the Legislature and has been signed by the Governor or becomes law without the Governor's signature.  These chaptered bills are bound in the California government's official publication, Statutes and Amendments to the Codes of California.

The Law Library's collection covers 1850-2007, at KFC 30 .A2 (Compact).

Westlaw Next: Click on the tab [State Materials], then click on [California].

Scroll down to the heading: Proposed & Enacted Legislation. Click on [California Enacted Legislation] then [Enacted Legislation (Session Laws)]. You may browse the most recent session laws or search all session laws passed during the current legislative session in the search box provided above.

Internet: The California Legislature's website has the Statutes and Amendments to the Code from 1993, known as session laws: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/statute.html

The State Assembly Chief Clerk's Website has the Statutes and Amendments to the Code for most years from 1850 to 2008; and, since 1968, the Summary Digest, on the Internet at http://192.234.213.35/clerkarchive/ .  Click on [Statutes] in the navigation bar on the left, then select the appropriate year from the drop-down menu. The result will be a table of contents in an active PDF document. Click on the desired section title or chapter number to view a scanned copy of the original print document. 

California Codes

California statutory law consists of 29 titles, called "codes," covering the following subject areas:  Business and Professions Code, Civil Code, Code of Civil Procedure, Commercial Code, Corporations Code, Education Code, Elections Code, Evidence Code, Family Code, Financial Code, Fish and Game Code, Food and Agricultural Code, Government Code, Harbors and Navigation Code, Health and Safety Code, Insurance Code, Labor Code, Military and Veterans Code, Penal Code, Probate Code, Public Contract Code, Public Resources Code, Public Utilities Code, Revenue and Taxation Code, Streets and Highways Code, Unemployment Insurance Code, Vehicle Code, Water Code, and Welfare and Institutions Code. 

Current California Codes

Deering's California Codes Annotated, published byLexis/Nexis (formerly Bancroft-Whitney), has approximately 220 volumes, and is shelved at KFC 30 .5 D4 (Compact).

West's Annotated California Codes, published by Thomson West, has approximately 250 volumes, and is shelved at KFC 30 .W48.

Westlaw Next: Click on the tab [State Materials], then click on [California].

Click on [California Statutes and Court Rules], which links to the current edition of West's Annotated California Codes.

Internet:  The current un-annotated (just the statutes without editorial analysis by the publishers) code is available from the California Legislature's website, http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html. Check the box next to the title you are interested in, or check the box next to [All], and enter your key terms in the box provided.  Or, check the box next to the title you are interested in, don't enter any search terms, and click on [Search] for the title's table of contents.

Historical California Codes

Older editions of the code are shelved in alphabetical order according to title (Agriculture Code [KFC 30 .5 .D4 F6], to Water Code [KFC 30 .5 .D4 W35]) in Historical Collection in compact shelving. You may search our online catalog by any of the 29 code titles to identify the publication dates of those codes in our collection. Ask at the Reference Desk for a chart of all available historical California codes.

Westlaw Next: Click on Tab [State Materials] and click on [California].

Click on [California Statutes and Court rules]. Then click on [California Statutes Annotated Historical] under the TOOLS & RESOURCES list on the right.  Historical codes begin with the 1987 edition.

Internet: None.

California Legislative Services

California's legislature meets yearly to pass new laws.  Legislative services identify updates to the California Code from the latest enactments of the California legislature.  Legislative services also contain such information as senate and assembly bills by chapter, constitutional amendments, selected resolutions, and propositions.

West's California Legislative Service.  Library retains for 5 yrs. The current edition is shelved with the West's Annotated California Codes. Prior editions are shelved in the Historical Collection in compact shelving (KFC 30 .W4).

Advance Legislative service to Deering's California Codes Annotated.  Library retains for 5 years. The current edition is shelved with the Deering's California Codes Annotated. Prior editions are shelved in the Historical Collection in compact shelving (KFC 30 .5 .D4 Z65).

Westlaw Next: Click on the tab [State Materials], then click on [California].

Scroll down to the heading: Proposed & Enacted Legislation. Click on [California Enacted Legislation] then [Enacted Legislation (Session Laws)]. You may browse the most recent session laws or search all session laws passed during the current legislative session in the search box provided above.

Internet: Current legislative information from the California Legislature is available at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/. Bill information is at: http://leginfo.public.ca.gov/bilinfo.html.

California Constitutions

California's original constitution of 1849 was replaced by the current constitution in 1879. However, the 1879 constitution has been revised and amended several times, most notably in 1966 and 1976, when the state adopted recommendations of the California Constitution Revision Commission.

Volumes including the current California Constitution are contained in Deering's California Codes Annotated (KFC 30 .5 .D4 C6 [Compact]), and West's Annotated California Codes (KFC 30 .W48 Z3).

Older versions of the California Constitution are located in the Historical Collection in compact shelving. The earliest state constitutions are sometimes bound with older editions of the California General Laws, Statutes, at KFC 30 .A2 (Historical). 

You may search our online catalog (use the key words "California constitution") to identify the publication dates of the constitutions in our collection. Ask at the Reference Desk for a chart of all available historical California codes that include the constitutions.

Westlaw Next: Click on Tab [State Materials] and click on [California].

Click on [California Statutes and Court Rules] to find links to the Constitution of the State of California 1879 and the Constitution of 1849 the State of California with Amendments (Superseded by Constitution of 1879). 

Internet: Current California Constitution: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/const-toc.html

Constitution of the State of California of 1849: 

http://www.sos.ca.gov/archives/collections/1849/full-text.htm

1879 California Constitution:

http://www.sos.ca.gov/archives/collections/1879/archive/1879-constitution.pdf

REGULATIONS

California Regulations

The California Code of Regulations (CCR) comprised of 28 Titles, contains the regulations of approximately 200 state agencies made available by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL).  Title 24, the California Building Standards Code, is not maintained by the OAL but by the California Building Standards Commission.

The OAL contracts for the official publication of the CCR every five years. Thomson West holds the current contract, and publishes Barclay's Official California Code of Regulations, shelved at KFC 34 .A23 (Ready Reference).   

Westlaw Next: Click on Tab [State Materials] and click on [California].

Scroll down to the heading Regulations and click on [California Regulations] for the current CCR.  For historical regulations beginning in 2002, click on [California Historical Regulations] under the TOOLS & RESOURCES list on the right.  

Internet: The CCR is provided online for free by Thomson West under contract with the Office of Administrative Law at http://ccr.oal.ca.gov/.

California Code of Regulations, Title 24 

The Building Standards Commission (BSC) is the "author" of the various codes (Building, Energy, Fire, Mechanical, Plumbing, etc.) that make up Title 24, the California Building Standards Code. These codes are based on Uniform Model Codes that are published (and copyrighted) by the International Conference of Building Officials, the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, and other such similar-sounding organizations. California's official building codes (with the necessary California amendments) are published by the International Code Council (ICC) on a triennial basis.  The current Code is shelved by the CCR in Ready Reference; prior editions, back to 1995, are shelved at KFC 35 .A25. 
Westlaw Next: not available.
Internet: on the BSC website at http://www.bsc.ca.gov/codes.aspx

California Regulatory Notice Register

Before the OAL can adopt an agency regulation, it must be published in the California Regulatory Notice Register and a time for comments must be provided.  The Register contains these notices by state regulatory agencies to adopt, amend, or repeal regulations, plus public comments and much, much more.  The Library retains 6 years plus current, located at KFC 35 .A2 (Compact).

Westlaw: Historical Regulations 2002-2011; see above.

Internet:  Current:  http://www.oal.ca.gov/California_Regulatory_Notice_Online.htm

Archives (2002-2008): http://www.oal.ca.gov/Notice_Register_Archives.htm

COURT RULES

California Court Rules

Volumes including the state-wide California Rules of Court are contained in both Deering's California Codes Annotated (KFC 30 .5 .D4 C6 [Compact]), and West's Annotated California Codes (KFC 30 .W48 Z3).  Current editions of federal, state, and local California court rules are kept at the Reference Desk:

California Rules of Court: State

California Rules of Court: Federal

California Rules of Court: Federal District Courts

Northern California Local Court Rules

Southern California Local Court Rules

The Standard California Codes: Rules of Court (includes Rules of Prof. Conduct)

Rules of the Superior Court in and for the County of Sacramento

Historical

Rules of the Superior Court in and for the County of Sacramento. Library has 1994 to prior year in the Historical Collection in compact shelving at KFC 993 .A3 S23.

Deering's California Desktop Code Series: set includes Rules of Court. Library has 1979-prior year in the Historical Collection in compact shelving at KFC 30 .5 .D4 C56.

Westlaw Next: Click on Tab [State Materials] and click on [California].

Click on [California Statutes and Court Rules] which links to current editions of: the Bay Area Local Court Rules,  Central California Local Court Rules, Los Angeles County Court Rules, Northern California Local Court Rules, and the Southern California Local Court Rules.  For updates to court rules, click on [California Rules Update Orders] under the TOOLS & RESOURCES list on the right.  

Internet:

California Rules of Court: http://www.courts.ca.gov/rules.htm

Superior Court Local Rules: http://www.courts.ca.gov/6168.htm

COURT OPINIONS (CASES)

California Supreme Court

Supreme Court cases are published in three reporters: the official California Reports, and two West reporters, the California Reporter and the Pacific Reporter.  The Law Library does not own the Pacific Reporter.

California Reports is the official reporter. The Library's collection includes the first series, abbreviated Cal. (1850 - 1934); 2nd series, Cal. 2d (1934 - 1969); 3rd series, Cal. 3d (1969 - 1991); and the 4th series, Cal. 4th (1991 – present), beginning at KFC 45 .A21 (Compact).

West's California Reporter contains West's headnotes and key numbers, and is tied to West's California Digest.  California Supreme Court cases are reported in the first series, abbreviated Cal. Rptr. (1960 - 1991); 2nd series, Cal. Rptr. 2d (1991 - 2004); and the 3rd series, Cal. Rptr. 3d (2003 - present), beginning at KFC 51 .W48 (Compact).

West's California Digest, covering 1951-1981, and West's California Digest 2d, covering 1981-present, are at KFC 57 .W471 (Compact).

Westlaw Next: Click on Tab [State Materials] and click on [California].

Under the heading Cases click on [California Supreme Court]. You may browse the most recent cases or search all cases since 1850 in the search box provided above. Once you are in a case, you may choose to view either the official or the National Reporter System version.

Internet:  Citable, published, Official Reports Opinions (1850-present) are made searchable online for free by LexisNexis, via a contract with the California Reporter of Decisions, at http://www.lexisnexis.com/clients/CACourts/.

California Appellate Courts

Court of Appeals cases are published in the official reporter California Appellate Reports and in West's California Reporter.

California Appellate Reports is the official reporter. The Library's collection includes the first series, abbreviated Cal. App  (1905 - 1934); 2nd series, Cal. App. 2d (1934 - 1969); 3rd series, Cal. App. 3d (1969 - 1991); and the 4th series, Cal. App. 4th (1991 - present, beginning at KFC 48 .A212 (Compact).

California Court of Appeals cases are also reported in West's California Reporter (see the California Supreme Court section above for more information).

Westlaw Next: Click on Tab [State Materials] and click on [California].

Under the heading Cases click on [California Courts of Appeal]. You may browse the most recent cases or search all cases since 1905 in the search box provided above. Once you are in a case, you may choose to view either the official or the National Reporter System version.

Internet:  Citable, published, Official Reports Opinions (1850-present) are made searchable online for free by LexisNexis, via a contract with the California Reporter of Decisions, at http://www.lexisnexis.com/clients/CACourts/.

Advance Sheets or Slip Opinions

The official advance sheets of the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal are published by LexisNexis and contain the most recent opinions published by the courts.  Often called "slip opinions," these soft-bound volumes are shelved at the end of the California Reports at KFC 45 .A24 (Compact). Published every ten days, the advance sheets are subsequently discarded once the appropriate bound volume is received.

The West California Reporter series also includes advance sheets at the end of the set at KFC 51. W482 (Compact); these weekly advance sheets are subsequently discarded once the appropriate bound volume is received. 

Westlaw Next is continually updated; occasionally, opinions appear sooner on Westlaw Next than on the California Court's website (below).

Internet:  The official California Courts web site, updated hourly, provides slip opinions from the California Courts of Appeal and the California Supreme Court issued within the last 60 days at http://www.courts.ca.gov/supremecourt.htm

ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS

Administrative agencies may be established directly by the Constitution, as the Public Utilities Commission, for example, or be created by or have authority delegated to them from the legislature. Agencies may sometimes be called Commissions or Boards. Many California executive and administrative agencies, in addition to promulgating regulations, render decisions within their realm of perview.

For a list of agency decisions published in print, please consult Chapter 8 of Henke's California Law Guide, 8th ed., by Daniel Martin (LexisNexis, 2006), at KFC 74 .H46 (Reference). (Note that this list may be somewhat out of date). Most California agencies publish their decisions on their websites; many agencies no longer publish their decisions in print. 

The Law Library collects a small, select group of California administrative agency decisions in print.  Of that group we discontinued collecting the opinions in print if the agency subsequently made its adjudications available on the agency's website.  To find agency decisions in print, search the online catalog by the name of the agency. 

Westlaw Next: to find California administrative agency decisions:

Click on Tab [State Materials] and click on [California].

Click on [Administrative Decisions & Guidance] to find links to agency decisions. Then click on the agency name.  Approximately 12 (twelve) agencies are listed.

Internet: The Law Library has compiled a list of many California agencies with administrative decisions on the Internet at http://www.diigo.com/list/saclaw/california-agency-decisions.  The list is lengthy (34 pages), although not comprehensive.

Popular California Agencies

Listed below are some of the better known California agencies and information on where to locate their decisions in the Law Library, in Westlaw Next, or on the Internet.

Attorney General Opinions
Opinions of the Attorney General of California
The Law Library has v. 1 – current (1944-present) at KFC 780 .A8 C3 (Compact).
Westlaw Next: coverage begins with 1977.
Internet: coverage since 1986. http://oag.ca.gov/opinions

Division of Labor Standards Enforcement Actions
Administrative decisions issued by the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. Library does not have in print.
Westlaw Next: coverage of "administrative decisions issued by the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards" begins with 2000.
Internet: coverage of Opinion Letters only begins in 1983. http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/DLSE_OpinionLetters.htm

California Environmental Administrative Decisions
Decisions released by the State Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission.
Library does not have in print.
Westlaw Next: coverage of the State Water Resources Control Board begins with 1957; Department of Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission (commonly referred to as the California Energy Commission, or CEC) begins with 1982.
Internet: State Water Resources Board Resolutions, Orders & Decisions  (coverage varies by type of ruling): http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/board_decisions/adopted_orders/
Department of Energy Precedential Decisions (coverage begins in 2008):  http://www.energy.ca.gov/commission/precedent_decisions.html

Fair Employment & Housing Commission Decisions
Precedential Decisions of the California Fair Employment and Housing Commission. Library has 1978-2002 at KFC 572 .A5 (Compact).
Westlaw Next: coverage begins with 1978.

Legal Ethics Opinions
Library has the California State Bar Court Reporter at KFC 76 .5 .A5 (1992 - present).
Westlaw Next:  Coverage begins with 1977.
Internet: Opinions from 1965 to present from the California State Bar Association:  http://ethics.calbar.ca.gov/Ethics/Opinions.aspx

Occupational Safety & Health Appeals Board Decisions
Library has Cal-OSHA Reporter, which contains digests of decisions released by the California Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board, at KFC 584 .A6 C3 (Compact).
Westlaw Next: Coverage begins with 1974.
Internet: Decisions after Reconsideration are currently available from May 4, 1999 through November 22, 2011.  http://www.dir.ca.gov/oshab/DAR_Decisions.html

Decisions of the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).
PERB is charged with administering the seven collective bargaining statutes covering California public employees.  
Located in KFC 562 .P8 A855 (Compact). Coverage: 2007 – present.
Westlaw Next: None.
Internet: Not all decisions are currently available but are being added on a daily basis for the sole purpose of having all PERB decisions available as soon as reasonably possible.": http://perb.ca.gov/decisionbank/search.aspx

Public Officials Ethics Opinions
Advisory opinions released by the California State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct.
Library does not have in print.
Westlaw Next: Coverage begins with 1977
Internet: Advisory opinions, declaratory rulings, and enforcement actions (coverage varies according to type of administrative ruling and code section violated).  http://www.ct.gov/ethics/cwp/view.asp?a=3488&Q=414904&ethicsNav=|44061|

Securities Administrative Decisions
Opinion letters, rulings, and orders prepared by the California Department of Corporations pursuant to Corporations Code § 25618, responding to specific securities-related matters.
Library does not have in print.
Westlaw Next: coverage begins with 1969.
Internet: Coverage varies according to type of administrative ruling and code section violated:  http://www.corp.ca.gov/Commissioner/Opinions/default.asp

State Personnel Board Decisions
Precedential Decisions of the California State Personnel Board (1992-2002), at KFC 763 .A553 (Compact).
Westlaw Next: coverage begins with 1992.
Internet: Coverage varies according to Government Code § 19572 violation or other related civil service issue: http://spb.ca.gov/precedential_decisions/index.cfm

Taxation Administrative Decisions
Decisions and Sales and Use Tax Annotations released by the California State Board of Equalization and the California Franchise Tax Board.
Library does not have in print.
Westlaw Next: Coverage begins with 1930.
Internet: California State Board of Equalization formal and memorandum opinions.
Franchise & Income Tax Formal Legal Opinions begin in 1930; Business & Special Taxes Memorandum Opinions begin in 1967: http://www.boe.ca.gov/legal/legalopcont.htm

Workers' Compensation Appeals Board Decisions
Decisions released by the California Workers' Compensation Appeals Board as well as summaries of petitions for review of WCAB decisions that were denied by the California Court of Appeals.
Library has California Compensation Cases, v. 1 (1936) – current, at KFC 592 .C3 (Compact).
Westlaw Next: Coverage begins with May 1981 for the WCAB decisions and 2007 for the Writ Denied Summaries.
Internet: En banc decisions (1997-present), significant panel decisions (1997-present), and cases pending on appellate grants.  http://www.dir.ca.gov/WCAB/wcab_dars.htm

Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board
California Misconduct Cases, at KFC 596 .A56 O27 (Compact). Misconduct cases only, 1968 – 1990)
Westlaw Next: None.
Internet:Linkable Index to precedent decisions: benefit, ruling, tax, disability and Work Incentive Program  Coverage varies according to type of decision.
http://www.cuiab.ca.gov/Board/precedentDecisions/index.asp

Other Sources of Administrative Decisions

California Administrative Law Research Guide, UC Hastings
http://bit.ly/16UvtGe  
Includes a list of agencies currently posting decisions online. 

Cal. State Agency Directory
http://ca.gov/CaSearch/Agencies.aspx
Complete list of state agency websites. Visit sites to find policies, procedures and rulings.

Office of Admin. Hearings
www.oah.dgs.ca.gov
Conducts hearings for many state and local government agencies. See “Representing Yourself” at http://tinyurl.com/78mdwm 

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS GUIDE, OR IF YOU NEED HELP FINDING OR USING THE MATERIALS LISTED, DON'T HESITATE TO ASK A REFERENCE LIBRARIAN.

JC 07/2012