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Find Policies and Legal Research: Finding Case Law

Introduction to case law

Case law consists of laws that result from court cases, and these laws exist at all three levels of the judiciary: federal, state, and municipal. Follow the instructions below to locate case law in the Nexis Uni database and Google Scholar

Locate case law in Nexis Uni

  1. On the Library's homepage, click on Databases A-Z button.
  2. Click on the letter N to view our databases starting with N.
  3. Click on Nexis Uni from the list of databases.
    Note: You may be asked to log in using your Walden username and password.
  4. On the Nexis Uni homepage, type your search terms (e.g. "public spending") into the main search box.



    Note: If you have a case citation number, you can enter that here, as well. 
     
  5. Click on the All Nexis Uni drop-down menu to the left of the search box; in the Narrow by box that opens, click on the Cases and Codes tab to display a screen of limiting options.


     
  6. From here, you can limit to a specific court or jurisdiction (federal or state). When you are done making your selections, click Search at the bottom of the screen. 

Locate case law in Nexis Uni using Guided Search

  1. On the Library's homepage, click on Databases A-Z button.
  2. Click on the letter N to view our databases starting with N.
  3. Click on Nexis Uni from the list of databases.
    Note: You may be asked to log in using your Walden username and password.
  4. In the Guided Search section on the Nexis Uni homepage, click on the Cases button under What are you interested in?

    Then you will be able to choose from the following options:
    • Which Jurisdiction
    • ..about
    • ..in year


     
  5. Select either Federal Cases or State Cases under Which Jurisdiction, and enter one or more search terms in the ..about search box. 
  6. Enter a date range in ..year (optional) and click Search.

For more ways to search in Nexis Uni, please consult their Search Tips and Help Topics sections.

Locate federal case law in GovInfo

  1. On the Library homepage, click on Databases A-Z button.
  2. Click on the letter G and then select GovInfo (formerly FDsys)
  3. On the GovInfo homepage, select the Advanced tab located above the main search box.


     
  4. In the Refine by Collection column, scroll down and check the box next to United States Courts Opinions


     
  5. In the Search In column, enter your keywords (e.g. "elder abuse") into the search box. To add more search boxes, click Additional Criteria link below the search box.


     
  6. Click Search.
  7. On the results page, refine your search further using the tools along the left-hand side of the screen. You can limit by Collection, Date Published, Government Author, Organization, Person, Court Type, etc. 
  8. To access a document, either click on the title or the PDF button at the bottom of the entry.

Locate case law in Google Scholar

Google Scholar will also allow you to search case law. Please note that Google Scholar is limited to case law and may not provide direct history of a case. The following steps will walk you through the process.

  1. Go to Google Scholar.
  2. Under the search box select Case law and then click Select courts.


     
  3. From the list that appears, click the check mark boxes next to the state you are researching and the corresponding courts. Then click Done.


     
  4. You will now be directed to the search box. Type in keywords related to your topic. Click Search and explore your results.

    Sample topic and keywords: "duty to warn" OR "duty to protect" OR "duty to report"‚Äč


     
  5. Using the limiters on the left side of the page, you can narrow your results further by date, jurisdiction, etc. You can also choose to set a search alert using Create alert to receive e-mail notifications when new case law that meets your search criteria is added to Google Scholar.