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Tribal Court Decisions Search and Citation FAQs 

This page contains Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about performing tribal court opinion searches and help on VersusLaw citations.

We hope that you will find that the answers to many of the search and citation questions you have are included in either our Opinion Search FAQ pages or other parts of the Tribal Court Clearinghouse.

How do I cite to opinions from VersusLaw?

VersusLaw carries its own unique citation system on every opinion, including paragraph numbering. While VersusLaw also carries official and parallel citations, VersusLaw must go through the same lengthy process as other publishers in both acquiring these citations and maintaining them in their databases.

In its 17th Edition of the Bluebook (2000), however, the Harvard Law Review Association has taken an important step to ensure the "citability" of opinions found in the VersusLaw database. Section 18.1, page 130, of the 17th Edition relates to citing cases reported on Commercial Electronic Databases.

In Section 18.1.1, the Bluebook states: 

"Provide the case name, docket number, database identifier, court name, and full date of the most recent major disposition of the case. The database identifier must contain enough information for a reader to identify the database and find the case. If the database has identifying codes or numbers that uniquely identify the case . . . these must be given. Screen or page numbers, if assigned, should be preceded by an asterisk; paragraph numbers, if assigned should be preceded by a paragraph symbol." 

Phillips v. Farley, 1 Nav. R. 69, 1972.NANN.0000008, ¶ 19 (Navajo 04/20/1972) (VersusLaw). (Click Here to view case).

For the Bluebook example, the ParaCite citation convention is:

  1. Year of the opinion: 1972
  2. Library of opinion: NANN (Native American NAVAJO NATION
  3. Unique opinion number: 0000008
  4. Pinpoint citation (if applicable): paragraph 19 
  5. Internet address: versuslaw.com

Here is another example:

Puyallup Tribe v. Conway, No. AP 94-3185, 1996.NAPU.0000009, ¶ 25 (Puyallup 08/14/1996) (VersusLaw). (Click Here to view case).

For the Bluebook example, the ParaCite citation convention is:

  1. Year of the opinion: 1996
  2. Library of opinion: NAPU (Native American PUYALLUP)
  3. Unique opinion number: 0000009
  4. Pinpoint citation (if applicable): paragraph 25
  5. Internet address: versuslaw.com

Where can I learn more about legal citation?

Besides purchasing the 17th Edition of the Bluebook, those interested in learning more about universal citation methods for citing to legal opinions should consult the American Bar Association on Universal Citation, the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Universal Citation Guide and Basic Legal Citation (from the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School).

What are the VersusLaw abbreviations for various Tribal Courts?

The following is a listing of abbreviations for Native nations who's court systems are presently members of VersusLaws' database of Tribal court opinions.

  • NACA Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana
  • NACC Colville Confederated Tribes
  • NACE Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Cherokee. North Carolina
  • NACH Chitimacha Indian Tribe
  • NACQ Coquille Indian Tribal Court
  • NAFM Fort McDowell Mohave-Apache Indian Community, Arizona
  • NAHT Hopi Tribe
  • NAGR Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon
  • NAMG Mohegan Gaming Disputes Trial Court of Appeals
  • NAMK Makah Tribal Court In Neah Bay, Washington
  • NAMP Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court
  • NANN Navajo Nation
  • NAPA Passamaquoddy Tribe Pleasant Point
  • NAPU Puyallup Nation Court
  • NASR Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Court Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe
  • NATB Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Court Tunica-Biloxi Nation

How do I download and print a case?

Downloading

When you download a document, you are saving a copy of it in a file on your hard (or floppy) drive so that you can work with the file later, perhaps in a word processing program. You might want to download a case if you want to “cut and paste” large portions of the opinion, change its look, or have it available for later viewing.

To "save" a document, pull down the Browser’s File menu and select “Save As” or “Save As File.” Your Browser will then allow you to select from various formatting options, e.g., *.html or *.txt. Choose the option that gives you the best results. This may depend, in turn, on your word processing platform.

Printing

There are two ways to print a document from a web site: 1. Printing directly from the screen, or 2. Printing once you have saved the document to your hard drive.

To print a document from the screen, use your browser's Print command under the File menu. Depending on your browser settings, this will print it as you see it on the screen.

Alternately, if you’d like some formatting options, once you have saved a document to your hard drive, you may open it with your word processing program and print as you would any other document. To save the file to your hard drive, use the Save As function in your browser under the File menu. Then, after you're done with your research session, you can open your word processing program and open the saved file. Once the file is open, you can reformat it as to margins, font size, columns, etc.

What is the best method to follow to search for Tribal court opinions?

How To Search: Type words into the entry box that you want to search for, then click [Search].

Any Word:
Just type one or more words to find any of the words. [Find ANY] is the usual default.
All Words:
Type more than one word and select [Find ALL] to find all of the words.
Or you can use Booleans (see below).
Exact Phrase: "..."
You can search for exact phrases by surrounding them in double quotes. Or you can just type the words and select [Find EXACT phrase]. Punctuation must be the same to be found between words, for example "Smith, John"
Boolean Operators: + -
Use + in front of each word or a quoted phrase that you require.
Use - in front of each word that you want to exclude.
Boolean Expressions: AND OR NOT ( )
Use AND, OR, NOT, (, and ) to form a Boolean expression. AND requires, OR allows, NOT excludes.
Use double quotes to protect the words "and", "or", or "not" in a phrase.
Examples:
Query Gets the documents with
sovereign immunity 'sovereign' or 'immunity' or both
"sovereign immunity" the phrase 'sovereign immunity'
+sovereign +immunity 'sovereign' and 'immunity'
+sovereign -immunity 'sovereign' but not 'immunity'
+president -"United States" 'president' but not 'United States'
(sovereign OR immunity) AND NOT president 'sovereign' or 'immunity', and without 'president'

Capitalization doesn't matter. The ranked results will come from a total match on the words and phrases which you supply, so try to think of several specific terms for your topic and spell them correctly. It may help to include important plurals and derived words too, like [address addresses contact contacting information] .

After you submit your search, the search results page will display a shot synopsis of each case found to match your search criteria, hyperlinks pointing to the documents that contain your search terms, and your search terms (which are bolded) and how they are used in each documents, and how many times they appear in each document.

Click on any hyperlink to the documents found as a result of your search. If it is a short document, you can scroll down the page to locate your search terms, or you can use your web browsers "Find" function to locate all instances of your search terms throughout the document (if you are an AOL user, click here).

Using Microsoft Internet Explorers Find Function

After you have located a document that appears to meet your search criteria, you can search for specific text in that document by clicking "Edit" on Internet Explorers toolbar and then clicking "Find (on this page)"

Enter your search terms in the "Find what:" box: and click on "Find Next."

Using AOL's Find in Top Window Function

After you have located an document that appears to meet your search criteria, you can search for specific text in that document by clicking "Edit" on the AOL toolbar and then clicking "Find in Top Window."

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