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POLI 104K: Legal Argument Formulation (Spring 2017): Finding cases with WestlawNext & LexisNexis Academic

Just need to read a case, fast?

How to find cases with Nexis Uni when you have a citation

Nexis Uni has a fairly simple interface--you can type any search term into the search box, including a case citation or name. You can also use the Guided Search to narrow your results specifically to cases.

 

Nexis Uni search screen for cases

Start on the Nexis Uni home screen and click "Cases." This will change the next box to Jurisdiction. Choose "Federal" or "State." Enter the case citation or name in the "...about" box.

 

Nexis Uni search results

If you type in the citation, the case you're looking for should be the first result. If you type in the case name by party names, you may find multiple cases with that name and have to choose yours from a list. Tip: Check the dates and court name to make sure you're looking at the right case!

 

 

Nexis Uni court case

The case screen will start out with a summary of the case, list "core terms" (subject headings/tags), and the LexisNexis® Headnotes (summaries of each point of law covered in the case). The "case" itself is the opinion of the presiding judge, or, in the case of the Supreme Court, one of the justices writing on behalf of the majority. 

You can determine whether the case is still considered valid law or if it's been overturned by looking at the icon in the middle and upper right of the screen and mousing over. Note: most major cases will have the yellow triangle icon indicating that the law is still good but there has been some later dissent.

 

LexisNexis case treatment icon legend

Pro tip: This icon is also clickable and will link you to cases, law review articles, and other documents that cite the case. This is called Shepardizing (because the print reference work that keeps track of citations to cases is called Shepard's.) You can also Shephardize using the link in the right-hand column.

How to find cases with Nexis Uni on a particular topic

Nexis Uni has a fairly simple interface--you can type any search term into the search box, including a case citation or name. You can also use the Guided Search to narrow your results specifically to cases right away.

 

Nexis Uni sample keyword search

Type your keywords into the big search box and click the red magnifying glass to run the search.

 

Nexis Uni search results - news

Nexis Uni includes many different types of content. The results default to news article content.

 

Nesis Uni search results - cases

Choose "Cases" on the menu on the left to find court case results.

 

You can narrow your results by jurisdiction, date, or other aspects of the case by scrolling down and using the options on the left.

 

Pro Tip: Searching for Law Review articles instead of cases will often net you citations to cases and legal documents on a topic that have already been compiled by expert legal scholars. 

How to find cases with WestlawNext when you have a citation

 

WestlawNext search screen

WestlawNext has a fairly simple interface--you can type any search term into the search box, including a case citation or name. Tip: If you're looking for a state court case, or if you're not sure of the jurisdiction, make sure you change the drop down box from "All Federal" to the correct jurisdiction(s).

 

 

Westlaw case screen

The case screen will start out with a summary of the case, list "core terms" (subject headings/tags), and the West Headnotes (summaries of each point of law covered in the case). The "case" itself is the opinion of the presiding judge, or, in the case of the Supreme Court, one of the justices writing on behalf of the majority.

 

You can determine whether the case is still considered valid law or if it's been overturned by looking at the icon in the upper left of the screen and mousing over.Note: most major cases will have the yellow flag icon indicating that the law is still good but there has been some later dissent.

KeyCite flag

Westlaw Key Cite flags key from http://www2.westlaw.com/CustomerSupport/Knowledgebase/Technical/WestlawCreditCard/WebHelp/KeyCite_Status_Flags.htm

Pro tip: This icon is also clickable but you can also naviage the case's history (prior and subsequent cases at different jurisdictions of appeal) as well as citing cases, law review articles, and other documents using the tabs at the top of the case screen. This is called KeyCite (basically, West's equivalent of Shepard's).

 

How to find cases with Westlaw Next when you have a topic

WestlawNext has a fairly simple interface--you can type any search term into the search box. Tip: If you're looking for a state court case, or if you're not sure of the jurisdiction, make sure you change the drop down box from "All Federal" to the correct jurisdictions(s).

WestlawNext search screen

WestlawNext defaults to showing the two most relevant cases and the most relevant statutes, regulations, administrative decisions & guidance, secondary sources, briefs, proposed & enacted legislation, and proposed & adopted regulations on one screen.

WestlawNext results list screenshot

Pro Tip: Reading Law Review articles before jumping right to the cases will often net you citations to cases and legal documents on a topic that have already been compiled by expert legal scholars.

Limiting results to cases allows you to sort results by date and further limit results by jurisdiction and other criteria.

WestlawNext case results screenshot

 

Pro Tip: You can also search WestlawNext using West's Key Number System, which is an elaborate and detailed scheme of subject headings. 

WestlawNext search screen screenshot

WestlawNext Key Numbering screenshot

WestlawNext Key Numbering detail screenshot