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American Legal History   Tags: legal history  

Print and electronic resources for legal history research at the Taggart Law Library
Last Updated: Nov 28, 2016 URL: http://lawlibguides.onu.edu/legal_history Print Guide RSS Updates

Case Law Print Page
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Finding Cases by Subject

Sometimes you might want to read cases to find out how the courts have dealt with your topic.  There are different methods for finding cases by subject, including:

Secondary Sources:  As mentioned earlier, many secondary sources provide case citations.  Examples include treatises, legal encyclopedias, ALR annotations, and journal articles.

West Digests:  A tool to help you find cases by subject.  They are arranged by predefined topics and subtopics and there are index volumes with each digest set to help you access these topics. 

For example, if you looked up “Land Use” in a West digest index, it could lead you to the topic of “Eminent Domain.”  You could then go to the appropriate volume of the digest (topics are arranged alphabetically) to find that topic.  “Eminent Domain” is further divided into subtopics that are called key numbers.  West key numbers will have a key symbol next to the number of the subtopics that looks something like this:

Key number 2 under “Eminent Domain,” for example, deals with what constitutes a taking as well as distinguishing between police and other powers.  You could go directly to that key number in the digest and find short summaries of cases, as well as case citations.  West digest sets can also help you find a case by name, such as Kelo v. New London.  They normally have a Table of Cases volume (or volumes) where you can search by case name in alphabetical order.

Because there are different types of courts and jurisdictions, there are different digest sets, including:

  • Ohio Digest
    Contains state and federal cases originating in Ohio; located in Law South in Ohio Section; see Law State Section for other West digests for individual states
  • Supreme Court Digest
    Contains only U.S. Supreme Court cases; located in the Supreme Court Alcove
  • Federal Practice Digest
    Contains only federal cases; located in Law South
  • Decennial Digests
    West-reported state and federal cases in all 50 states; located in Law South

Online Case Law Sources

  • Casemaker
    Online database of opinions from federal & selected state courts (including Ohio). Can be accessed for free by students who are Ohio State Bar Association members by using your last name and member number.
  • Google Scholar
    Google Scholar allows you to search and read published opinions of US state appellate and supreme court cases since 1950, US federal district, appellate, tax and bankruptcy courts since 1923 and US Supreme Court cases since 1791.
  • Justia.com
    Freely searchable database of federal and state case law.
  • LEXIS
    Subscription database containing federal and state case law searchable by citation, by party name, or by using various search strategies (ONU Law School patrons only)
  • Ohio Opinions & Announcements
    Search for Ohio Supreme Court and District Court of Appeals cases.
  • U.S. Supreme Court
    Access to latest Supreme Court slip opinions from the current term as well as opinions from previous terms.
  • Westlaw
    Subscription database containing federal and state case law searchable by citation, by party name, or by using various search strategies (ONU Law School patrons only)
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