Criminal Justice Resources: Finding Court Cases

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Finding Court Cases

Full list of Law Databases - A look at Nexis Uni Legal (LexisNexis)

The database link via this list takes you to a search area that by default searches across all Nexis Uni content. The area below the search box is for law reviews and journals. To search for a specific federal or state court case, choose “Select a different content type” and examine the options. You can click the link for Cases and add terms to the search. There are also options for Party Name, Court, Date, Citation, History, Disposition, Outcome, Attorney Name, etc. To search by topic, enter keywords such as "sentencing reform" or "Measure 11" in the Terms box and click the Add button. Then click the magnifying glass icon at the end of the search box.

 

 

Interpreting Legal Citations

Example:

United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220, 125 S. Ct. 738, 160 L. Ed. 2d 621 (2005)

  • In this citation, the names of the parties are United States and Booker; thus, the case name is United States v. Booker.  Typically the plaintiff is listed first, and the defendant second.
  • The next part of the citation tells you where to locate it.  This citation tells us that this case is reported in volume 543 of the United States Reports (abbreviated U.S.) and that the case begins on page 220.  This is the official citation for this case. 
  • Most cases are reported in more than one place.  The official citation will always be listed first, and then followed by citations for anywhere else that case was reported.  For instance, this case was also published in the Supreme Court Reporter (S.Ct.), and in the United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers’ Edition (L. Ed. 2d).  The parallel citations give the volume and page number for where you would find this case in those sources.
  • The citation will also give you the year that a decision was reached: in this case, 2005.
  • Sometimes you will encounter the symbol § which means “Section”.  When searching Lexis-Nexis, replace the symbol with SECTION or SEC (so 5 USCS § 5901 becomes 5 USCS SEC 5901).

Citations must be formatted correctly, including punctuation, for a successful search.  For more information see the citation help page in Lexis-Nexis Academic:

Lexis-Nexis Legal Citation Formats

Tip: If you are not sure what the abbreviation in a citation stands for....Google it!

There is a recorded workshop and presentation slides focused on "Citing Legal Materials in Bluebook/APA Style." A librarian conducted this session on February 2018. Scroll down the Workshops and Instruction page to view this content (look in the section, "Handouts & Recordings").

HeinOnline

Full list of Law Databases - A look at HeinOnline Database

Hein Online indexes legal and legislative information available for U.S. states and territories. HeinOnline has four major library collections: the Law Journal Library, the Federal Register Library, the Treaties and Agreements Library, and the U.S. Supreme Court Library.

Know what you are searching. Use the to learn more about the resource.

Have a specific case? Use the option to find a court case. Sample citation: 543 U.S. 220, 125 S. Ct. 738, 160 L. Ed. 2d 621 (2005)

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