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Introduction to Legal Research

Statutory Law

State statutory law follows the same basic pattern as federal statutory law. State laws are initially published as session laws, then compiled into codes.

Georgia session laws are published in Georgia Laws and are available both in print in the Law Library and online in the following databases.

Georgia's official code is called the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. The O.C.G.A., including annotations, is available online at LexisNexis Academic. An unannotated version of the official code is available to the general public from the Georgia General Assembly. West publishes an unofficial version of the Georgia code, West's Georgia Code Annotated, which contains some different annotations. Georgia Code Annotated is available in print at the Law Library.

Legislative history information in Georgia is scarce to non-existent, as no debates, reports, or hearings are published by the Georgia Legislature. To help make up for this gap, the Georgia State University Law Review publishes the Peach Sheets, which provide an unofficial account of the legislative history behind a statute. The Peach Sheets can be found in the GSU Law Review in Lexis AdvanceHeinOnline's Law Journal Library, and in print at the Law Library.

Case Law

Georgia follows the same basic pattern as the federal court system, in that Georgia has several trial courts, a Court of Appeals, and a Supreme Court. The rules as to which court has appellate jurisdiction over a case can be complex; a chart showing the court system and the relationship between the courts is available online from the Administrative Office of the Courts of Georgia.

Decisions of the Georgia Supreme Court are published in the Georgia Reports, and decisions of the Georgia Court of Appeals are published in the Georgia Appeals Reports.

Both courts' decisions are republished by West as part of its National Reporter System. The National Reporter System divides the country into regions and republishes the decisions of the appellate courts in those states. Georgia cases, along with cases from the courts of South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, are published in the South Eastern Reporter.

Georgia cases, along with cases from other states, are also available in Lexis Advance and Lexis Academic.

Unlike the federal court system, Georgia trial court decisions are not published.

Administrative Law

Like federal administrative law, Georgia administrative law includes rules, decisions, and orders issued by executive agencies and officers. However, this information is not as easily available as federal information.

The Georgia equivalent of the Federal Register is the Georgia Government Register. The Georgia Government Register is published monthly, and contains notices, some proposed rules, and executive orders. There is no requirement that a rule be published in the Georgia Government Register, however.

Georgia's administrative code is the Official Compilation of Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia. The Official Compilation is available in print at the Law Library; however, the print edition is organized by agency and has no index. Searchable versions of the Official Compilation are available online at Lexis Advance and the website of the Secretary of State.

Georgia executive agencies sometimes resolve disputes, just like federal agencies. These decisions are not published, however. Selected decisions may be available from the agency's website.

Secondary Sources

Although many general secondary sources have some coverage of Georgia law, there are some secondary sources that solely cover Georgia law. The most recent editions of treatises and hornbooks on Georgia law are kept at the Reference Desk at the Law Library. Other secondary sources are available on the Georgia Reference table and in the stacks. Some of the most frequently used secondary sources for Georgia Law are:

Disclaimer: The views and opinions of the authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the State of Georgia, and shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes. Georgia State University College of Law and the authors of the works contained on this website do not assume or accept any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, currentness, or comprehensiveness of the content on this website. The content on this website does not in any manner constitute the issuance of legal advice or counsel. The information on this website is intended to provide resources that may aid the research of the topics presented, and are in no way a comprehensive list of sources one should consult on the topics presented. Please note that case law, statutory law, and administrative law may be modified and/or overturned. Additionally, because the laws vary between jurisdictions, the laws referred to herein may or may not be applicable to the law within the reader’s jurisdiction.