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Legal Research On The Internet


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10/08/08 presentation at the SL Bar Assn. by Cat Galileo (Kate Fitz). Handouts available at:

Published in: Education

Legal Research On The Internet

  1. 1. Legal Research on the (Free) Internet Presented by: Kate Fitz Public Services Librarian Sacramento County Public Law Library
  2. 2. Sources of law <ul><li>Primary Sources contain the law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Actual statements of the law </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Codes, Cases, Regulations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Generally available online </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Secondary Sources explain the law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Material “about” the law, often starting point for research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limited availability online </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Search Techniques on the Internet <ul><ul><li>Boolean, wildcards, “exact phrase,” proximity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Always take a peek at the “help” or “search tips” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Broken links? Site map, URL trimming, Google’s “site:” search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Alternative terms, terms to focus </li></ul></ul>Introduction
  4. 4. Primary Sources
  5. 5. Case Law
  6. 6. <ul><li>1934 to the present </li></ul><ul><li>Free, but registration required </li></ul>California cases
  7. 7. Cases citing this case Pin cite No indication of total hits
  8. 8. Advanced Search More Search Terms California Courts – Powered by LexisNexis <ul><li>Cases since 1850 </li></ul><ul><li>Registration not required </li></ul><ul><li>Many search options </li></ul>
  9. 9. Print or email Focus w/in results Validation symbols California Courts
  10. 10. Other State Case Law <ul><li>FindLaw a good source, but varies in coverage </li></ul><ul><li>Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII): </li></ul><ul><li>Check with your local public law library! </li></ul>
  11. 11. Federal Case Law <ul><li>All Supreme Court, F2d and F3d </li></ul><ul><li>West Rptr citations w/ pagination </li></ul><ul><li>Advanced search available </li></ul>
  12. 12. Federal Case Law – other options <ul><li>Altlaw: http:// / . All Supreme Court cases, 40+years of federal appellate cases, most with West Reporter citations, but not pagination. Advanced search functions available. </li></ul><ul><li>Justia: http:// / Federal and state cases, including some access to current case dockets. Citations, but not pagination. Google search (no built-in advanced search) </li></ul>
  13. 13. Statutes
  14. 14. California statutes Click here For CA code <ul><li>Current code only </li></ul><ul><li>Not annotated </li></ul><ul><li>Keyword searchable </li></ul>NO INDEX!!
  15. 15. Searching the California Codes fence Can my neighbor build a 12-foot high fence next to my property just to annoy me?
  16. 16. The plain statement of the law
  17. 17. leave keyword blank Browsing Table of Contents Choose a code to view, then…
  18. 18. Browsing Table of Contents No way to plug in cites!
  19. 19. Other State Statutes <ul><li>FindLaw a good source, but varies in coverage </li></ul><ul><li>Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII): </li></ul><ul><li>Check with your local public law library! </li></ul>
  20. 20. United States Code <ul><li>U.S. House of Representatives http:// Plug in citations or search text. Many search options including cross-references to a citation. Classification Tables (recently enacted changes). Prior versions of Code. </li></ul><ul><li>Cornell Legal Information Institute http:// / Plug in citations or search text. Table of Popular Names; advanced search options. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Regulations
  22. 22. California Code of Regulations <ul><li>Regulations of all California agencies </li></ul><ul><li>Only the current edition is available </li></ul><ul><li>Title 24 (CA Building Standards Code) is NOT available on the Internet </li></ul>
  23. 23. Click for Table of Contents California Code of Regulations Plug in citation Search for words
  24. 24. California Code of Regulations What insects can be imported without a permit? import AND insects AND permit
  25. 25. California Code of Regulations
  26. 26. Other State Regulations <ul><li>Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII): </li></ul><ul><li>Check with your local public law library! </li></ul>
  27. 27. <ul><li>e-CFR: </li></ul><ul><li>Federal Register: </li></ul>Federal regulations
  28. 28. Municipal law
  29. 29. California City & County Codes Also see: California City Websites & City Codes california/cities/
  30. 30. Other Municipal & County Codes
  31. 31. Sacramento City Code Online
  32. 32. Public Records Searching <ul><li>Types of records available varies from County to County and from State to State </li></ul>
  33. 33. Cal. Secretary of State
  34. 34. <ul><li>Links to many free public records databases around the U.S. </li></ul><ul><li>Can limit by state </li></ul><ul><li>Also many links to pay searches </li></ul>
  35. 35. Court Records <ul><li>California </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Many California courts offer online case index </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More and more offer online documents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Find California courts on the Judicial Council site </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Other States </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Available records vary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Find court websites at Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII): http:// / </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Federal dockets and documents: see PACER. Some free at and </li></ul>
  36. 36. Secondary Sources <ul><li>Secondary sources such as: </li></ul><ul><li>CEB practice guides </li></ul><ul><li>Rutter Group materials </li></ul><ul><li>Matthew Bender pleading and practice guides </li></ul><ul><li>… are NOT available for free on the Internet </li></ul>$215.00 $361.25 $4201.00
  37. 37. Cornell Legal Information Institute: Wex Articles arranged alphabetically Keyword Search
  38. 38. FindLaw: “Learn About the Law” Arranged topically or alphabetically
  39. 39. Self Help Publisher Commercial site, but many helpful articles available free
  40. 40. California Judicial Council Self-Help Center
  41. 41. Local court websites <ul><li>Info on specific topics and local practice </li></ul><ul><li>Forms, instructions, samples </li></ul><ul><li>Links to more resources </li></ul><ul><li>Find your jurisdiction: </li></ul>
  42. 42. Law Reviews
  43. 43. Washburn Legal Research on the Web
  44. 44. L aw Review Home Pages ( D’Angelo Law Library)
  45. 45. Google Scholar – article search <ul><li>Links to full text sometimes availalble </li></ul>
  46. 46. Keeping current – Law Blogs <ul><li>Written by practitioners or scholars </li></ul><ul><li>Regularly updated news, case reports, and commentary on specialized topics </li></ul><ul><li>RSS feeds can deliver the news to you </li></ul>
  47. 47. Finding blawgs - Justia
  48. 48. Law Professor Blogs
  49. 49. Thank you for coming! <ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>IM Cat Galileo </li></ul><ul><li> (coming soon) </li></ul>