Research guides

Pennsylvania Appellate Law and Practice

Court Rules, Statutes, and Caselaw

Court Rules

When participating in a court case, it is important to follow the correct set of court rules. The Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure (Pa.R.A.P.) are freely available online in Title 210 of the Pennsylvania Code. For additional places to find Pennsylvania Court Rules, including in print and on the library's Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law computers, see the Pennsylvania Court Rules - State guide.

An extensive discussion of these Rules can be found in many secondary resources discussed in this guide, including Pennsylvania Appellate Practice, available in print and on the library's Westlaw computers.

Select county (local) rules may also apply. See the Pennsylvania Court Rules - County guide for how to access county court rules.

Statutes

The Pennsylvania Statutes lay out the laws regarding the organization and specific jurisdictions of the Pennsylvania Supreme, Superior, and Commonwealth Courts. The statutes are available for free online from the Pennsylvania General Assembly. See 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 5: Organization of Appellate Courts and 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 7: Jurisdictions of Appellate Courts. Please note that additional laws may also apply.

For additional places to find Pennsylvania Statutes, including in print, on the member database Fastcase, and on the library's Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law computers, see the Pennsylvania Statutes guide.

Caselaw

Generally, caselaw refers to case opinions written by a judge or judges. Not all cases have written opinions, and not all written opinions are considered "published" or precedential. Some courts now link to select opinions on their websites. Many opinions can be found using subscription legal databases like Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law. For some cases, especially trial (county) level cases, the only way to obtain the opinion is to contact the court.

For more information about caselaw, including published versus unpublished decisions, links to opinions available on courts' websites, and ways to access caselaw, like searching the subscription legal databases Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg Law, and Fastcase, see the Pennsylvania Cases - Appellate Level and Pennsylvania Cases - Trial Level guides.

KeyCite and Shepard's

Citators, like KeyCite (available on Westlaw) and Shepard's (available on Lexis), can provide references to additional legal materials, including treatises and law reviews, that mention the court rule, statute section, or case you are researching. They may also help to determine validity. These materials may help with your research.

KeyCite Westlaw
Available on the library's Westlaw computers.
To KeyCite when reading a court rule or statute section, click on the tabs above the text, such as History and Citing References. Additional tabs, like Notes of Decisions and Context & Analysis, may also help with your research. To KeyCite when reading a case, click on the Negative Treatment, History, and Citing References tabs above the text of the case.

Shepard's Lexis
Available on the library's Lexis computers.
Court rules and statute sections on Lexis may have annotations, including case notes and treatise references, listed below the text of the rule or statute. To Shepardize when reading a case, court rule, or statute section, click on the Shepardize this document link located on the right side of the screen.