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Virginia Legal Research

A guide to researching the law of Virginia using the resources of the Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library

Case Law

The Virginia judicial system consists of the Supreme Court, a Court of Appeals, 120 circuit courts in thirty-one judicial circuits, general district and juvenile and domestic relations district courts in thirty-two districts, and magistrates in offices in thirty-two districts. Reported decisions of Virginia courts are collected in the following publications:
  • Virginia Reports (KFV2445 A2) 1790-present: The official publication for decisions of the Supreme Court of Virginia. Note that the first 74 volumes are often cited using the nominative reporter title (e.g. Gratt, Rob, Leigh, etc.). 
  • Virginia Court of Appeals Reports (KFV2448 A2) 1985-present: The official reporter for published decisions of the Virginia Court of Appeals. 
  • South Eastern Reporter (4th floor) 1887-present: An unofficial reporter for Virginia Supreme Court and Court of Appeals cases (also included are cases from the state courts of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia). 
Many of the individual nominative reports together with the Virginia Reports, Virginia Decisions, and some early colonial reports are available on HeinOnline and the LLMC Digital database. Recent (’95- ) decisions from the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals (including unpublished opinions) are available on the Internet.  

Indexes & Digests

The following publications can be used to locate Virginia case law:

  • West's Virginia and West Virginia Digest (KFV2457 W3): This West Key Number product provides topical indexing to cases interpreting Virginia and West Virginia law.
  • Michie's Jurisprudence of Virginia and West Virginia (KFV2465 M5) and The Code of Virginia also provide references to cases interpreting or discussing Virginia law.  

Court Rules

Court rules are available in volume 11 of the Code of Virginia (Reference and Stacks KFV2430 1950 .A4). In addition, the following sources provide access to Virginia court rules.

  • Virginia Court Rules and Procedure: State and Federal (KFV2929 A19). This annual publication includes rules for the various state and federal courts in Virginia.
  • Virginia Forms (KFV2468 V57). A multi-volume set updated by pocket parts and replacement volumes.  
  • Virginia Model Jury Instructions: Civil (KFV2942 M6). A two volume loose-leaf set updated annually.
  • Virginia Jury Instructions (KFV2942 E47). A one volume set with annual replacement volumes.
  • Virginia’s Judicial System. This site contains links to rules, forms, and a variety of resources related to the Virginia court system.
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