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Pennsylvania Practice-Oriented Legal Research : PA Free Case/Statute Resources

Research guide for Pennsylvania Practice-Oriented Legal Research. PPLR is a program offered by Widener-Harrisburg Legal Information Center that introduces basic research tools necessary for practice in Pennsylvania.

PA Cases Overview

What's the Difference Between State and Federal Courts?

Pennsylvania state courts decide cases involving child custody matters, divorce, most criminal cases, real estate issues, juvenile issues, contract disputes, traffic violations, personal injury issues, and inheritance matters, to name a few. These courts can also hear cases that are appeals from state or local agencies. For example, an appeal from a local zoning decision would normally go to the local Common Pleas Court.
But, there are certain categories of legal disputes that are resolved in federal courts. Federal courts may hear cases that involve the U.S. Constitution, federal law, the United States government, or controversies between states or between the U.S. government and foreign governments. In addition, they may hear “diversity of citizenship” cases – cases between citizens of different states (for example, between a citizen of Pennsylvania and a citizen of New York), or between a citizen of a state and a non-U.S. citizen. Note that diversity of citizenship cases must involve claims that exceed $75,000.
The federal courts also hear appeals from federal agencies. For example, an appeal from a denial of social security benefits by the Social Security Administration, would go to the federal courts, once all administrative appeals are finished.
Federal district courts in Pennsylvania are: the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

PA Cases / Statutes Print Resources


Pennsylvania Reporter
KFP45 .P4

Pennsylvania State Reports (Supreme Court) 
KFP45 .P43 

Pennsylvania Superior Court Reports 
KFP48 .A2

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Reports 
KFP49 .A2

Pennsylvania District & County Reports 
KFP51.A4 D55


Cases from Pennsylvania State appellate courts are found in

the Atlantic Reporter (U.S. section of the library):

Atlantic Reporter, 3d (2010-date) 

Atlantic Reporter, 2d (1939-2010)

Atlantic Reporter (1895-1938) 



Laws of PA 
KFP25 .A23

KFP30 1975 .A25

KFP30 .A4

PA Supreme Court Briefs

PA Supreme Court Brief Collection 1997 to present

Widener Harrisburg has a selected collection of briefs from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. These briefs have been indexed to make them easier for you to find and locate the item(s) you need. Widener retains what the court has sent us. There could be briefs for certain cases that Widener never received from the court.

Other briefs can be found through Jenkins Law Library


Internet Resource

Google Scholar

Currently, Google Scholar allows you to search and read published opinions of US state appellate and supreme court cases since 1950, US federal district, appellate, tax and bankruptcy courts since 1923 and US Supreme Court cases since 1791. In addition, it includes citations for cases cited by indexed opinions or journal articles which allows you to find influential cases (usually older or international) which are not yet online or publicly available.

Class Presentation

PPLR from smgiusti

Pennsylvania Statutes

The Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes (Pa.C.S.) is the official subject codification of the Pennsylvania laws. It was created by the statutory consolidation project and has never been completed by the PA Legislature.  The Laws of Pennsylvania contain laws enacted as amendments to the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, the official statutory codification established by the General Assembly under the act of November 25, 1970 (P.L.707, No.230). These laws have been incorporated into a separate official publication since 1975.

The Pennsylvania Unconsolidated Statutes  The Laws of Pennsylvania, also referred to as the Pamphlet Laws, have been recognized as official law since December 1, 1801. Acts are numbered by the Department of State and published by the Legislative Reference Bureau as separate official documents known as slip laws before publication in bound editions as the Laws of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Annotated (Pa.C.S.A.) is an annotated edition of the official codification, published by West.

Purdon’s Pennsylvania Statutes (P.S.) is the unofficial codification of the Pennsylvania laws published by West. It covers the titles which have not yet been consolidated by the Legislature.


Unofficial Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes West

  • Note: Free online access.
  • Note: These are the unofficial, unannotated version of the complete set of Purdon's Statutes.

You can access Pennsylvania’s statues via the website of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. You can also browse by title. This site gives you the option of viewing statutes in PDF, Word, or html formats.

  • Note:  These are the official, unannotated version of the Consolidated Statutes.

Cases and Dockets

To access information about Pennsylvania Courts visit the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, this site contains case reports, bar results, notices, court descriptions.  Databases of full-text opinions, statewide dockets, forms, schedules, judicial biographies, history, annual statistical reports, and more.  Links to primary websites for several PA counties.  You will find information on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Superior Court, Commonwealth Court, and Common Pleas Courts.   There is information dates back to 1996 for the Supreme Court and 1997 for Superior and Commonwealth Courts.
Commonwealth Court, Superior Court, Supreme Court, and others:
Can search by caption, judge, date, "opinion type" (majority opinion, per curiam order, etc.), opinion status, and court type.
Also contains dockets for Magisterial District Courts, PA Appellate Courts, Philadelphia Municipal Court
Third Circuit Court of Appeals
Case reports, rules, and forms.
Forms, court locations, rules, directory, job listings.
Opinions, news, rules, announcements, document filing, directory.
Local rules, forms, opinions, Pacer, and more.
If you go to each county website, many will include court rules & local ordinances.
Listed from the PA Bar Association website.
Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
Search for an attorney or for a decision in the Disciplinary Reporter.
Can search by court docket number, board docket number, or date.
Decisions can be found on the commission website.
All public opinions issued by the Professional Standards and Practices Commission are available, as well as Teacher Tenure Appeal Opinions, who have been demoted or dismissed.
Full-text opinions since 1997, docket, and general Board information.
PA Insurance Department
Enforcement and market conduct actions and market surveillance.
Final orders.
Adjudications, petitions, and advisory notices.
PUC court decisions.
Advices, opinions, and orders found in the elibrary.
Workers Compensation court rules, recent decisions, news, and web links.

Other Resources

Official PA Attorney General opinions.

Governor's Executive Orders
Selected coverage from 1973 to present.
Organized by topic.
Search by document type.
Pennsylvania Constitution        
Primary source of information about the text, history, and meaning of the Pennsylvania Constitution compiled by Duquesne University.  Text of current and older constitutions as well as the debates of the Constitutional Convention of 1967-1968 (debates are under Historical Research).
Everything from the Charter for the Province in 1681 to the Constitution in 1776.
Session laws from 1682 forward.  Statutes at Large are complete; Smith's Laws and Pamphlet Laws are in varying stages of completion.
A guide to current and historical Pennsylvania government.

Widener Law Library

As a student or alumni, member of the bar, you will have access to our resources

HeinOnline has partnered with Fastcase

The federal case coverage includes the judicial opinions of:

  • Supreme Court (1754-present)
  • Federal Circuits (1924-present)
  • Board of Tax Appeals (vols. 1-47)
  • Tax Court Memorandum Decisions (vols. 1-59)
  • U.S. Customs Court (vols. 1-70)
  • Board of Immigration Appeals (1996-present)
  • Federal District Courts (1924-present)
  • Federal Bankruptcy Courts (1 B.R. 1-present)

The state case law covers all fifty states, with nearly half of the states dating back to the 1800s. Coverage for the remaining states dates back to approximately 1950.


Collection has select Nominative and Side Reports opinions dating from the 1800's to the early 2000's.


The Loislaw Pennsylvania law library contains Pennsylvania primary law in the following databases. The databases are duplications of the law received from the Pennsylvania Courts, Legislature, Office of Administrative Law or other sources.

  • Supreme Court case law from v281 Pa. (1924 - 1925) to the present
  • Commonwealth case law from v1 Pa. Commw (1970 -1971) to the present
  • Superior Court case law from v81 Pa. Super (1923) to the present
  • Court Rules (Federal and State)
  • Pennsylvania Statutes
  • Pennsylvania Acts, including Acts from 1999 to the present
  • Code of Regulations
  • Cite checking for cases and statutes
  • Recent cases are available for Pennsylvania