The purpose of this guide is to offer methods and strategies for researching Nevada judicial opinions, specifically opinions issued by the Supreme Court of Nevada and Nevada Court of Appeals. For simplicity, this guide will use the words opinions, case law, and decisions interchangeably. This guide describes how to perform case law of research in print as well as online from free and some fee-based sources. We also discuss the availability of unpublished (also known as unreported) dispositions. This guide focuses on HOW to research Nevada case law. For a more descriptive guide of Nevada case law publication, check out or Nevada Primary Sources guide.
Recent Supreme Court of Nevada and Court of Appeals Advance Opinions are available online at:
The following is a sample case citation for a Nevada Supreme Court opinion as published in the Nevada Reports (Nev.) and the Pacific Reporter (P.3d).
The parts of the citation are in different colors to help illustrate the different parts of a citation.
Not all orders/opinions issued by the Nevada Appellate Courts are "published."
(c) Form of Decision. The Supreme Court and Court of Appeals decide cases by either published or unpublished disposition.
(1) A published disposition is an opinion designated for publication in the Nevada Reports. The Supreme Court or Court of Appeals will decide a case by published opinion if it:
(A) Presents an issue of first impression;
(B) Alters, modifies, or significantly clarifies a rule of law previously announced by either the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals; or
(C) Involves an issue of public importance that has application beyond the parties.
(2) An unpublished disposition, while publicly available, does not establish mandatory precedent except in a subsequent stage of a case in which the unpublished disposition was entered, in a related case, or in any case for purposes of issue or claim preclusion or to establish law of the case.
Subsection (c)(3) sets forth the situations when and how a party may cite unpublished decisions:
(3) A party may cite for its persuasive value, if any, an unpublished disposition issued by the Supreme Court on or after January 1, 2016. When citing such an unpublished disposition, the party must cite an electronic database, if available, and the docket number and date filed in the Supreme Court (with the notation “unpublished disposition”). A party citing such an unpublished disposition must serve a copy of it on any party not represented by counsel. Except to establish issue or claim preclusion or law of the case as permitted by subsection (2), unpublished dispositions issued by the Court of Appeals may not be cited in any Nevada court for any purpose.
There are no print sources available for trial-level opinions or orders for Nevada's trial courts, although some may be discoverable online through Westlaw or Lexis (Washoe County and Clark County).
Why is there a lack of availability?
Trial level orders settle a dispute between a "plaintiff" (the person who has suffered an injury, be that emotional, physical, or financial) and the "defendant" (the person who allegedly caused the injury). The decision by the trial court judge as expressed in the written order is binding only between the plaintiff and the defendant. It does not create law for individuals who were not involved in that dispute. This final order might be the result of a jury determining facts in favor of one party or another, the application of law to the facts, or a general factual determination by the judge.
Now, if the "loser" at the trial court level decides to appeal his or her case to an appellate court, that person becomes known as the "appellant," and the "winner" at the trial level becomes known as the "respondent" or "appellee."
Facts are unique to the individual parties, but the proper application of the law is something that affects all Nevada citizens. As such, the opinions written by Nevada's two appellate courts (the Nevada Supreme Court and the Nevada Court of Appeals) address contested issues of law. Citizens rely on these cases to know how Nevada's laws are interpreted and applied. This is why appellate court cases are more widely published than trial-level opinions.