Inside the Supreme Court

Petition to Decision

Papers of Supreme Court Justices on Civil Rights Cases

David Achtenberg

Professor & Law Foundation Scholar

UMKC School of Law

Kansas City, MO 64110-2499


Petition to Decision
Home Page
Case Selection
Whatís New
Finding Your Way Around
Coming Attractions
What You Will Find


Finding Your Way Around a Case File

How are Case Files Organized and How Do I Find the Documents?
Explanation Schematic and Links to Examples
Case Selection Page:  The Case Selection Page is your gateway to the case files.  It provides a link to each case and a very brief summary of the caseís holding. 

Click to Visit the Case Selection Page
The Decision Home Page:  Each case file begins with a "Decision Home Page" which briefly discusses the decisionís legal significance and background story.   More importantly, the Decision Home Page provides links to the three parts of the file: the Archive, the Timeline, and the Researcher Information page.  Each of these pages is discussed below.   

Click for an Example of a Decision Home Page
The Archive:  The Archive links you to the digital archive of all the available papers of Supreme Court Justices dealing with the particular case.  The digital archive presents the papers just as you would find them in the archives where the originals are stored.  If a particular justice had two files on the case, the digital archive will have two digital "files."  If the first box contained five separate documents, the digital "file" will link you to each of those documents in the order that they appeared in the original, hard copy files.   

Click for an Example of an Archive Page

Click for an Example of a Justiceís File  Page
The Timeline:  Researchers who prefer to view the papers in chronological (rather than archival) order will ordinarily go to the Timeline.   This page is a chronological timeline of the Courtís internal discussion and handling of the particular case from the petitionerís earliest filings through the Courtís  announcement of the decision.   The timeline is a single spreadsheet that links each event to every document that relates to that event.   

Click for an Example of a Timeline Page
 Researcher Information:  The Researcher Information page contains links to pages with information that may be helpful to users of the website:  Bibliography of Articles, Transcripts, Cast of Characters, Sources, and Conversion Protocols. 
  • The Bibliography Page contains a list of articles relating to the case.
  • The Transcript Page contains links to transcripts of important, but difficult-to-decipher handwritten notes and documents
  • The Cast of Character Page contains a list of the abbreviations used to refer to the people who played a part in the case and explains who they were.
  • The Sources Page explains where the original documents are located.
  • The Conversion Protocols page explains the process that was used to photograph and digitize the copies that appear in the Petition to Decision website. 

Click for an Example of a Researcher Page

Click for an Example of a Bibliography Page

Click for an Example of a Transcripts Page

Click for an Example of a Cast of Characters Page

Click for an Example of a Sources Page

Click for an Example of a Conversion Protocols Page