Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Iowa Legal Research: Sources of Iowa Law: Court Cases

Iowa Court System

The Iowa judicial branch includes a Supreme Court, a Court of Appeals, and District Courts.

Most cases begin at the district, or trial, court. In the district court, a judge or a jury listens to evidence, determines the facts of the case, and applies the law to decide the case.

If an Iowa district court decision is appealed, an appellate court will review the trial court record for significant errors. In Iowa, all appeals go to the Iowa Supreme Court, which decides whether to keep the case or refer it to the Court of Appeals, Iowa’s intermediate appellate court. 


Citators help you verify the current status of a case, find later cases that have cited a case, and find parallel citations.

Check a particular Iowa case to see if it was cited in reported decisions of the Iowa and federal courts, Iowa Attorney General Opinions, legal periodicals and texts, annotations, and the laws of Iowa.

Other Research Guide

District Court Opinions

Iowa district court orders and decisions are typically neither published nor released on the web. Some district court information can be found using Iowa Courts Online. With proper citation information, files can also be accessed from the district clerk of court office.

Appellate Court Decisions

The Iowa Supreme Court decided its first case in July of 1839. The Iowa Court of Appeals was established by the General Assembly in 1976. Since the Supreme Court designated West Publishing Co. the official reporter of Iowa decisions, the North Western Reporter has been the official source for these opinions.

Law Library Web Site · Locator Guide & Maps · Hours · Interlibrary Loan · Ask A Librarian

Drake University Law Library • 2604 Forest Ave. • Des Moines, Iowa 50311-3014