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Zimmerman's Research Guide



The Florida Constitution, statutes, bills and other legislative materials are posted on the the Florida Legislature's Online Sunshine site. For House bills, bill status and related Documents, use the Florida Senate and Florida House of Representatives websites. The Florida Administrative Code and the Administrative Code Weekly are posted by the Florida Department of State. Recent Supreme Court opinions are posted by FindLaw back to 1997. You can find Internet links to more Florida primary legal materials and government agencies through FindLaw.

In addition, primary legal materials are available from Lexis, Westlaw and LOIS. Fastcase has the Florida statutory code. Fastcase, Google Scholar and Versuslaw have cases from 1950. Supreme and appellate court cases are reported in West's Southern Reporter.

To check on the status of pending litigation call the Offices of Legislative Services at 1-800-342-1827 in state or 850-488-4371 out of state.

Florida session laws are available back to 1822 from the State Library And Archives of Florida. They are also available on The subscription-based Digital Session Laws Collection on HeinOnline.

For briefs -- Florida Supreme Court Briefs and Opinions are posted free back to 1846. Alternatively, you can order copies of briefs from cases with published opinions back to the early 1960s from several Florida law school libraries, including FSU (850-644-4095) and Stetson (813-562-7820 or 7821).

For questions about Florida legal materials, copies and/or inter-library loans, try calling the University of Florida College of Law Lawton Chiles Legal Information Center (Reference: 352-273-0723; Main: 352-273-0700) or the Florida State University Law Research Center in Tallahassee, which has a friendly document delivery service (850-644-4095) and/or the Dolly and Homer Hand Law Library at Stetson University College of Law (phone 813-562-7820 or 7821). Alternatively, check out Girtman's Compendium of Federal and Florida Case Law: Where to Find it and How to Cite It. The University of Florida's Legal Information Center posts guides for researching Florida cases, laws and regulations.

Attorneys: You can find out if an attorney is licensed to practice in Florida using the Florida Bar's Member Search. The Member Search will give you the attorney's disciplinary history going back 10 years. To go back farther, call the Legal Division of the Florida State Bar at 850-561-5839.

Docket Sheets And Case Information: Links to docket databases for most Florida courts are available at Legaldockets.com. For an overview of the structure of Florida courts see here. The Florida Courts website includes statistics on Florida courts.

Historical Administrative Law Materials: Florida administrative law materials (including decisions) are available from the Florida Administrative Law Report (352-375-8036) which, in addition to being the official reporter for most Florida administrative agencies, has a research service (that principally searches their administrative law-related databases).

Jury Instructions: The Florida Supreme Court posts Standard Jury Instructions for Civil, Criminal, and Contract & Business. They are also available on Westlaw (FLA-JICIV or FLA-JICRIM).

Land Records: You can look up Florida real estate records using the Official records database posted by the relevant Clerk of the Circuit Court. Often it helps to search the relevant County Property Appraiser's database first. If you don't know the county, you can try a commercial public records vendor like TLO, Accurint Lexis or one of the other sources listed in the "Land Records" and "Title Searches" sections of the Real Estate entry.

Legislative History: For information about Florida legislative history, see the Florida Legislative History and/or the chapter on Florida in Legislative Intent Research: A 50-State Guide, published by the National Conference of State Legislatures. One of the key documents in a Florida legislative history is the staff analysis. These are available back to 1998 from the Florida Senate Website Archive (first select your bill and then follow the links to the staff analysis).

To get Florida legislative history materials, call a good document retrieval service. I've had good results from Florida Information Associates (850-878-0188). One of their researchers, Connie Beane, is extremely knowledgeable. Alternatively, you can call the Florida Legislative History Research Service (850-878-0188), which also compiles legislative histories -- but you must supply the session laws you want, and they don't know anything about the laws themselves, they just know how and where to get the materials. For other services, see "Document Retrieval Services."

Legal Encyclopedias: Florida Jurisprudence is available on Westlaw (FLJUR) and Lexis (FLA;FLJUR). In addition, Lexis has a number of online Florida practice treatises. For elements of common actions, see Florida Causes of Action (James Publishing).

See Also
Attorney General Opinions
Case Pulls
Docket Sheets
Legal Ethics
Legal Treatises
State Cases
State Government Agencies
State Laws, generally
State Regulations and Administrative Codes
State Statutes and Codes

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2015 Andrew Zimmerman