Witkin State Law Library
The Witkin State Law Library offers an extensive collection of primary and secondary sources with a focus on California law. Primary sources from California's beginnings aid the Legislature and state agencies in tracing legislative or regulatory histories, and practice guides and court briefs aid lawyers and those proceeding pro se. Our collection extends beyond California as we have materials relating to other states, federal legislation, and even historical and international law. We have highlighted but some of our most used and requested resources below.
Our librarians are willing to help you with your research requests, but we cannot operate as lawyers or provide you with legal advice. If you would like assistance with a case, the California Courts Self-Help Center offers extensive information directly from the courts, including information on finding a lawyer.
If you need an Authentication Certificate or Apostille, the California State Library is not authorized to issue them, and we refer you to the California Secretary of State.
California Primary Sources
Senate and Assembly Bills (1867–date)
The Library has selected bills from 1867 and virtually all versions of the bills from 1876 to date. Bill books contain all versions of a bill from its introduction through when it was either chaptered or last amended. The library has physical versions through the 2003/2004 Legislative Session, but official bill information is also available online from 1993 to date from California Legislative Information.
Bill File Analyses (1975–date)
This collection includes summaries, fiscal effects, and comments on different versions of select bills which are invaluable in legislative intent research. The library has print versions through 2012, with some gaps, with access to current analyses through California Legislative Information.
California Codes (1872–date)
The Library has superseded editions of the California Codes back to 1872. West's Annotated California Codes provide enactment dates, notes to relevant court decisions, and complete citations of the code history to aid in legislative intent research. Current codes are available online via California Legislative Information.
California Code of Regulations (1945–date)
This collection contains all the administrative regulations of California state agencies adopted pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act.
California Code of Regulations Supplement (1945–date)
Commonly referred to as the "Register," this is a record of changes to the regulations filed with the Secretary of State and published on a weekly basis.
Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations is maintained by the California Building Standards Commission and is published in its entirety every three years. The most recent publications are available online, with superseded editions available in print at the Witkin State Law Library.
California Regulatory Notice Register (1974–date)
First published in 1974, the Notice Register — sometimes referred to as the "Notice Supplement" or "Z Register" — is a weekly publication of all proposed agency regulatory actions including Notices of Adoption, Amendments, Repeals of or other rulemaking activities.
California Supreme Court and Appellate Court briefs (Cal.–Cal. 4th, Cal. App.–Cal. App. 4th)
Our collection of briefs is nearly complete, but not all are housed on-site. Please contact us in advance so that we can make materials available if you wish to visit.
California Attorney General Opinions (1899–date)
Providing legal opinions upon request to designated state and local public officials and government agencies on issues arising in the course of their duties, these formal legal opinions have been accorded great respect and weight by the courts.
California Attorney General Reports (1874–1942)
A shorter report that includes indices to opinions rendered to various agencies, including tables on number of opinions requested, pending, and issued.
California Secondary Sources
Witkin California Treatises
These treatises on law and procedure are renowned for their readability and practicality. Extensive references to cases, practice guides, law reviews, and other commentary make them an invaluable resource when beginning to research California law.
California Jurisprudence (Cal. Jur.–Cal. Jur. 3d)
Derived from California statutes and cases, this resource presents a thoroughly indexed and cross-referenced collection that illustrates the rules of California law and all exceptions, qualifications, and limitations.
California Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB)
These publications offer expert step-by-step guidance, legal analysis, and forms for business law, criminal law, employment law, estate planning, family law, litigation, real property law, and other California legal topics.
The library has a wide collection of California practice guides, including those by Rutter Group and Matthew Bender, that include case citations, forms, and law practice tips useful for lawyers and those proceeding pro se.
This collection contains current and superseded rules of court for California courts from the local to federal district level.
The library has volumes of forms adopted or approved by the Judicial Council for use in the courts of California that may be scanned. Additional other forms include jury instructions and forms from select practice guides.
Newly proposed federal agency rules and regulations, notices of meetings, public comments on regulatory actions and more are all printed in this daily journal. Documents are available online at the link above back to 1994. Prior editions dating back to 1936 can be found in the library.
Published in 50 titles, this collection has all current and superseded volumes of these codified rules and regulations of federal agencies. The CFR is the final, published version of the rules and regulations published in the Federal Register. Title 3 also publishes all Executive Orders and Proclamations of the President. Documents are available online at the link above back to 1994. Prior editions dating back to 1936 can be found in the library.
The library holds selected published opinions from the Attorney General published as Official Opinions of the Attorneys General of the United States. Beginning in 1977, with the Attorney General's authorization, this publication continues as Opinions of the Office of Legal Counsel. Documents are available online at the link above back to 1934. Prior editions dating back to 1852 can be found in the library.
United States Statutes at Large (1849–2011)
This collection of all enacted laws is published at the conclusion of a session of Congress. Slip laws are available in the library before publication in the Statutes at Large. While the library has physical copies dating back to 1849, digital versions are available from the Library of Congress covering 1789-1950 and from the U.S. Government Publishing Office covering 1951-2012.
This version of the U.S. Code comprises all laws of a general and permanent nature under arrangement of the official Code of laws of the United States, with annotations from federal and state courts. The current U.S. Code is available at the link above, and superseded versions dating back to c.1940 are available in the library.
Out of State
Our holdings vary by state and period, but the library has a collection of superseded codes, statutes, session laws, court reports, and other legal reference materials.
Developed by the U.S. Government Printing Office, this database provides permanent public access to electronic U.S. government information published by the U.S. Congress, federal executive agencies, and the federal court system.
This searchable digital library offers full-text collections of legal journals, texts, cases, statutes, regulations, presidential materials, treaties, as well as international and foreign legal journals, cases and materials. Content is in the original page-image (PDF) format, ensuring the authenticity of the original hardcopy document. (Anyone can access the collection using computers or wireless at the California State Library in Sacramento and the Sutro Library in San Francisco. State employees with library cards can log in from anywhere.)
This database provides online access to over 140 titles of Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB) California practice guides. Search CEB's publications to find expert step-by-step guidance, legal analysis, and forms for business law, criminal law, employment law, estate planning, family law, litigation, real property law, and other California legal topics. (Anyone can access the collection using computers or wireless at the California State Library in Sacramento and the Sutro Library in San Francisco. State employees with library cards can log in from anywhere.)
Do you have a reference question? Use our Ask A Librarian service, which directs your inquiry to a California State Library staff member.
If you would like to visit, our reading room is open to the public Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., excluding state holidays.