Law & Justice

WCC Library’s legal resources provide support to students in the Criminal Justice and Paralegal Studies programs but can be useful for anyone researching legal information.

Criminal Justice ResourcesState & Federal ResourcesCase LawsCiting Legal Sources

Background Information

Criminal Justice Reference Books (full-text keyword searchable) from Credo Reference

Criminal Justice & Law videos from FilmsOnDemand.

Black’s Law Dictionary (print Reference KF 156 .B53 2014) This is gold standard of legal dictionaries.

Racial Equity in the Justice System
Central clearinghouse of American Bar Association related information and resources for attorneys, the legal profession and the public on a wealth of issues addressing bias, racism and prejudice in the justice system and society.

Featured Databases

  • Legal Collectionwcc logo
    Scholarly law journals and case studies. Topics include criminal justice, ethics, federal law, international law, labor and human resource law, medical law, organized crime and the environment.
  • Legal Information Reference Centerwcc logo
    Easy access to reliable legal information including books from Nolo "the nation’s oldest and most respected provider of legal information for consumers and small businesses".

Spotlight on the Web

Legal Literacy: An Introduction to Legal Studies (Athabasca University) Provides a foundational understanding of key concepts such as legal personhood, jurisdiction, and precedent, and by introducing students to legal research and writing skills. Examples of cases, statutes, and other legal materials support these concepts. May be Canadian focused.

Criminal Law from UMN. This open textbook introduces you to our legal system in the United States, the basic elements of a crime, the specific elements of commonly encountered crimes, and most criminal defenses.

FBI Records – The Vault Thousands of declassified FBI documents over many decades. Records on The Vault are organized alphabetically by name or topic. Users may also locate records by browsing various categories such as civil rights, counterterrorism, popular culture, unusual phenomenon, and violent crime.

National Criminal Justice Reference Service: A comprehensive federal website that offers resources in crime, victim assistance, and public safety. Includes A-Z topics.

Criminal Justice from the RAND Corporation This think tank conducts research and analysis.

Browse @ The Library

Upstairs in the Stacks


Article for Reflection: “How Research Is Translated to Policy and Practice in the Criminal Justice System” by Yunsoo Park. Posted by the National Institute of Justice.

Recommended Blogs & News

LOC Law blog banner
Latest news from the Library of Congress

Gallagher Library (WWU) Blog

Whatcom County Resources

Whatcom County Law Library Maintains a great collection of resources for all aspects of local law.

State Laws

Revised Code of Washington (RCW) The compilation of all permanent laws now in force in Washington State.

Washington Administrative Code (WAC) Regulations of executive branch agencies are issued by authority of statutes. Like legislation and the Constitution, regulations are a source of primary law in Washington State.

State Court

Washington Court Rules (print Reference KFW 529.A21 2021)

Washington Court Rules, State, Local, & Federal (print Reference KFW 529.A21 2021)

“Washington Lawyers Practice Manual” → Ask at the Reference Desk.

Court Opinions

The written decision from a judge (or panel of judges) is referred to as a case, decision, or opinion.

Generally cases only from appellate courts are available. Selected state trial court decisions and verdicts are reported in the news; they are not available in traditional print or online sources.

Washington State Judicial Opinions Public Access Website This free website provides complete coverage of cases from the Washington Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.

Washington Appellate Court Opinions This is a searchable database of cases decided by the Washington Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals from 1854 – to date

Court Listener Contains daily information regarding all opinions issued by the 13 federal circuit courts and the Supreme Court of the United States.

U.S. Court Opinions Includes links to judicial opinions from both federal and state courts.

Case Law is law that is derived from the decisions issued by judges in the cases before them in court. The following resources offer the best tools for finding case laws.

Caselaw Access Project The Caselaw Access Project (“CAP”) expands public access to U.S. law with the goal to make all published U.S. court decisions freely available to the public online, in a consistent format, digitized from the collection of the Harvard Law Library.

Casetext: “Casetext is a public legal research tool and online community that’s quickly becoming the best place to discover and share legal knowledge. Search millions of cases and statutes, for free, annotated with insights contributed by the legal community. Linking commentary to a legal database gives authors a platform to demonstrate thought leadership to the roughly 250,000 people researching on Casetext each month. Together we’re changing legal research.”

Google Scholar : this is a great way to find legal cases. Just click on the “Case law” button to ensure relevant material is found. You can also narrow your search to specific states and courts.

Citing Legal Sources

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Always ask your instructor what citation format they would like you to use. Some options for legal citations are:

  • Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) Citation Manual (print Reference KF 245 .A45 2010)
  • The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (ask at the Reference Desk)