Finding Uncodified Federal Laws on Westlaw

A recent Search Tip from the West e-lert, Vol. 6, No. 7 :

Q. I’m an attorney trying a case in federal court, and the judge has made reference to an uncodified federal statute related to my case. Where on Westlaw should I search for the statute?

A. Occasionally, a truly substantive law isn’t codified, and can only be found in its entirety as a session law (also known as a public law) in the United States Statutes at Large, commonly referred to as the Statutes at Large, published by the Government Printing Office (GPO). You can find session laws from the Statutes at Large in four databases on Westlaw:

United States Statutes at Large 1789—1972 (US-STATLRG)
United States Public Laws 1973—2004 (US-PL-OLD)
United States Public Laws (US-PL)
U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News—Public Laws (USSCAN-PL)

Sometimes a legislative note following the text of a USCA section will alert you to the existence and location of an uncodified law. For instance, a law commonly referred to as the Hyde Amendment allows criminal defendants prosecuted by the government to recover attorney fees and other litigation expenses if the claims of the United States are proven to be frivolous, vexatious, or in bad faith. The Hyde Amendment was never codified. Nevertheless, a note following the text of 18 U.S.C.A. § 3006A summarizes the uncodified provision and provides the proper citation of the session law: Pub.L. 105-119, Title VI, § 617, Nov. 26, 1997, 111 Stat. 2519. On Westlaw, the citation is linked to the full text of the session law in US-PL-OLD.
In the absence of a helpful legislative note, one of the notes of decisions following a USCA section may reveal the existence of an uncodified law. Otherwise, you may find references to an uncodified law in secondary sources (e.g., treatises and practice guides) or periodicals. Try a Terms and Connectors search for the law in Texts and Periodicals—All Law Reviews, Texts, and Bar Journals (TP-ALL).

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