Skip to main content

Rhet 4325/5325.991: Legal Writing and Analysis

Library Databases

Internet

Source: http://www.netforlawyers.com/content/google-makes-free-caselaw-search-available-scholar

On the Google Scholar Advanced Search page, you can limit results to:

  • all legal opinions and journals: You cannot limit your search to just journals or just legal opinions.
  • only US Federal court opinions: You cannot limit your search to just one type of federal court (such as U.S. Supreme Court only).
  • only state court opinions: You can select any combination of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

There are no search boxes to search by citation, party name, or judge name, but you can "force" these searches. To force a search by citation, enter it into the Find articles with the exact phrase search box on the Advanced Search page. (Even though a case citation is not an article, the results do include cases).

To force a search by party name, you must first decide if you want to bring back narrow or broad results. For example, in a search for Roe v Wade, the most narrow search strategy would be to enter Roe v Wade into the Find articles with the exact phrase search box, limit your results to Search only US federal court opinions, and from the Find articles where my words occur drop-down menu, select in the title of the article (this will bring back cases, not articles, since you selected Search only US federal court opinions). This brought back two results (the U.S. Supreme Court decision and the Federal District Court decision). Be sure to use "v" and not "versus" or "vs."  

The most broad search strategy for research about Roe v Wade (using Scholar) would be to enter the two party names, Roe and Wade into the Find articles with all of the words search box, click into the Search all legal opinions and journals radio button, and from the Find articles where my words occur drop-down menu, select anywhere in the article (this will bring back both cases and articles). This search brought back 31,900 results, from the Roe v Wade case, to state and federal cases and articles citing to Roe v Wade. (Searching Roe and Wade at Google.com brought back over 18 million results.)

To force a search by judge's name, first enter the judge's last name into the search box labeled Return articles written by and then either click into the radio button labeled only U.S. Federal court opinions or only court opinions from the following states (and then choose a state). At the U.S. Supreme Court level, this will bring back any case where the specified judge delivered the opinion, concurred with it, or dissented from it. If you only want cases where a specified U.S. Supreme Court judge delivered the opinion, for example, you could try entering the judge's last name and the word delivered into the phrase box. This is very hit or miss. It's possible a result (or results) could include cases where someone else delivered the opinion but the specified judge was mentioned regarding his/her delivery of another opinion cited to in the case you are viewing.