Frequently Asked Questions @ the Fifth Circuit Library
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What is the purpose of the Fifth Circuit Library?
The library exists to provide legal research assistance to judges, staff attorneys, law clerks, and other federal court personnel throughout the Fifth Circuit.

Who uses the library?
The library system serves all federal court personnel throughout the fifth circuit. This includes judges, law clerks, staff attorneys, conference attorneys, clerk staff, circuit executive staff, and others. Some locations are open to members of the 5th Circuit bar and some locations are open to members of the public.

What are the hours of operation for the libraries?
All libraries observe federal holidays, but a skeleton crew works most holidays in the headquarters library. Normal library hours are:
  • Louisiana Locations:
    • New Orleans Headquarters: Mon - Fri. 8:00 am - 4:45 pm
    • Baton Rouge Satellite: Mon. - Fri. 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
    • Lafayette Satellite: Mon. - Fri. 8:00 am - 4:30 pm
    • Shreveport Satellite: Mon. - Fri. 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • Mississippi Locations:
    • Jackson Satellite: Mon. - Fri. 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Texas Locations:
    • Beaumont Satellite: Mon. - Fri. 8:30 am - 5:30 pm*
    • El Paso Satellite: Mon. - Fri. 8:00 am - 12:30 pm (MST)*
    • Houston Satellite: Mon - Fri. 08:00 am - 5:00 pm
*Beaumont and El Paso libraries are only open to patrons who have business before the court.

Can members of the public check out books?
No. Only Judges and their law clerks may check out books.

Do you have “regular” books in your libraries?
Not unless they deal with the law somehow. In addition to books about laws and how laws have been interpreted, we do have some biographies of judges as well as books on writing and grammar. But we do not have any fiction, children’s books, or other types of books found in a public library.

Should I expect law librarians to conduct research and help me with a personal legal problem?
No. Law Librarians are here to assist you by showing you sources that might be helpful in your research. However, law librarians can not give you any legal advice or act as your lawyer.

Does the library have legal forms I can use for my legal problems?
The library has many books of forms including Bender’s Federal Forms, West Federal Forms, as well as some state forms for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The librarian cannot advise you which form to use. You must select the form(s) you wish to use. Please consult a librarian for assistance with these sources.

Can I make copies in your library?
.Yes. Photocopiers in the library are free, but they are for library materials only. Patrons abusing the copiers or the free copies policy will be asked to leave the library.

Do you have computers in your libraries?
Several computers are available in the headquarters library in New Orleans. Three computers are available in the Houston library. The computers in the library are for legal research only. All usage of computers in the library must adhere to the following regulations:

  • These workstations are to be used for legitimate legal research only.
  • Computers and applications are monitored to ensure appropriate use. Any person identified as abusing these resources may be barred from their use. Applications specifically prohibited include internet chat (e.g. MSN Messenger, ICQ, AOL Instant Messaging) and streaming media (video clips).
  • Documents must be saved on a personal diskette or flash drive. Files saved to the computer's hard drive will be deleted.

Do you have free access to Lexis or Westlaw?
Yes, at the New Orleans HQ and Houston libraries. The free Lexis access includes:

  • Current United States Code Service, including Popular Name Table and Statutes at Large
  • Current Federal Rules Annotated
  • All federal and state cases and codes
  • Supreme Court L. Ed. (All)
  • Supreme Court Transcripts (1979-current)
  • All Courts of Appeal cases (1789-current)
  • All District Court cases (1789- current)
  • Shepard’s
  • State and federal administrative law and regulations
  • Model Acts and Uniform Laws

What is the purpose of the Fifth Circuit Library?
The Library exists to provide legal research assistance to judges, staff attorneys, law clerks, and other federal court personnel throughout the Fifth Circuit.

How do I find records or briefs from the Fifth Circuit?
If the case for which you are searching took place within the past two years, the Clerk’s Office may still have it. You can contact them by calling (504) 310-7700. If you are looking for a sample brief, several are available here.

The Fifth Circuit has microfiche of selected briefs from 1980 - 2008. Please ask a librarian for help using this collection.

If you have a PACER account, you can search there for dockets, briefs, motions, etc from the Fifth Circuit. However, not all records will be available via PACER. If you are looking for something that is not contained in either PACER or the microfiche collection of briefs, you will need to contact the Federal Records Center (FRC) to find the information.

If you have a PACER account, you can search there for dockets, briefs, motions, etc from the Fifth Circuit. However, not all records will be available via PACER. If you are looking for something that is not contained in either PACER or the microfiche collection of briefs, you will need to contact the Federal Records Center (FRC) to find the information.

Fort Worth: http://www.archives.gov/frc/fort-worth/ or Atlanta: http://www.archives.gov/frc/atlanta/.

The FRC cannot process any request without the following information:
  • FRC accession number
  • FRC location number
  • Agency box number
  • Case number
  • City where court is locaed

Where can I find unpublished opinions from the 5th Circuit?
Unpublished opinions are available online beginning with sporadic coverage in 1994. The library keeps recent unpublished opinions sorted by judges name on file, as well as bound print copies of unpublished opinions from 1974-2003.

How do I find a legislative history for a particular law in Louisiana, Mississippi, or Texas?
The library holds limited materials for performing legislative histories for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The best method of performing this research would be to contact the State Law Library of the respective state:

This site is maintained by the Fifth Circuit Library System of the U.S. Court of Appeals on behalf of the Federal Judicary.