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Law & Legal Studies: How to Find a Court Case

Find a Court Case by Name of Citation

Using LexisNexis  General (Business and Legal) (linked below), select "Look up a Legal Case" in the center of the page.  Enter either a name in the case in the "Case name" box or a citation in the "Citation Number" box.  A citation is more precise..There may be multiple cases of the same name.  

Citations to Court Cases

A citation to a court case consists of an abbreviation indicating a particular court reported plus number indicating the volume and page number:

94 S Ct. 1009     Volume 94 of Supreme Court Reporter, page 1009

113 N.E.2d 321  Volume 113 of Northeastern Reporter 2d series, page 321

 

Major court reporters in the GIL collection:

F., F.2d, F.3d          Federal Reporter (U.S. appellate courts); call no.: LAW KF 105 .F432

F Supp., F Supp. 2d  Federal Supplement (U.S. district courts); call no.: LAW KF 120 .F42

L. Ed., L. Ed. 2d       Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers Edition (U.S. Supreme Court); call no.: LAW KF 101 .A313

N.E., N.E.2d            Northeastern Reporter (Ohio state courts plus New York, Mass., and Ill.); call no.: LAW KF 135 .N6

S Ct.                      Supreme Court Reporter (U.S. Supreme Court); call no.: LAW KF 101 .A212

U.S.                       United States Reports (U.S. Supreme Court); call no.: LAW KF 101 .A212

Find Court Cases by Subject

LEGAL ENCYCLOPEDIAS

American Jurisprudence (AMJur); call no.: LAW KF 154 .A42

Ohio Jurisprudence (OJur); call no.: LAW KFO 65 .O35 1977

Use these legal encyclopedias to locate citations for court opinions dealing with a particular subject.  Encyclopedias summarize what courts and laws have said and list selected court cases and laws in footnotes.  Since they take a broad view of all jurisdictions and select the most relevant cases, these sources are likely to provide a more accurate result than other sources.

Encyclopedias are arranged alphabetically by broad legal subject areas (such as Civil Rights or Constitutional Law).  Start with the general index.  Look up your subject (experiment with different terms -- concentrate on the principle or concept involved rather than the facts of the situation).

The index gives you a subject chapter name and a section number.  To find out what the abbreviations used in the index mean look in the table for abbreviations in the front of any index volume.  Look up the chapter name alphabetically in the main volumes of the encyclopedia.  Each chapter is divided into numbered sections.  There is a detailed outline at the beginning of each chapter for further help in finding what you want.  There are also chapter indices at the end of the volume.

ALWAYS LOOK IN THE POCKET SUPPLEMENTS to each volume for the latest material and case notes.

Specific court decisions are cited in extensive footnotes to more general discussion.  Once cases have been identified, copies may be found through LexisNexis legal as described in "Find a court Case by name or Citation" above.

 

DIGESTS

Supreme Court Digest; call no.: LAW KF 101 .U522

Federal Practice Digest; call no.: LAW KF 127 .W48

Ohio Digest; call no.: LAW KFO 57 .W4

Comprehensive indices to federal and Ohio court decisions, but without the overview and evaluation of cases provided by legal encyclopedias.  Each individual decisions does have a very short description of "digest."  Follow the instructions for using legal encyclopedias above.

 

ONLINE DATABASES

LexisNexis General (includes Business &Legal)

Click on the Search by Content Type box in the center right, choose Legal Reference, then Advanced Options. then select title(s) for legal encyclopedias and other analytical sources.  Click on "Apply" to search.  Encyclopedias also have a browse option.

To search full-text of all court decisions, choose "Federal & State cases" in the Content Type box in the center right.  Use the "Advanced Options"  to choose a particular court, groups of courts or subject area.  

 

FOR FURTHER HELP

Pocket Guide to Legal Research. KING REF KF240.P886 2008

Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law.  KING REF KF 240 .E35 2005

Black's Law Dictionary. KING GOV & LAW  KF 156 .B53 2004

The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation.  KING GOV & LAW  KF 245 .B58 2005.