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CRJU 8710: Legal Aspects of Criminal Justice: Case law and Opinions

Emphasizes the constitutionalization of the criminal justice process with special attention to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Finding a Case: LexisNexis Academic

LexisNexis Academic provides users with a powerful tool for retrieving case law.  Available through the University Library, LexisNexis Academic allows researchers to search for case law using a variety of methods.

Methods for Searching

  1. By Citation: If a researcher knows their citation already, then they can plug that into LexisNexis Academic and it will retrieve the case. Citations should be provided exactly as they written.  Ex.  The citation for Roe v. Wade is 410 U.S. 113.  Therefore, when entering this citation in LexisNexis Academic, the researcher should type "410 U.S. 113," and not a variation, such as "410us113."
     
  2. By Parties: If a researcher knows the parties to a case but not the citation, then they can enter in those party names and retrieve cases with those names.  This could lead to more than one results, especially if the party names are common such as "United States v. Smith" or "State v. Williams."  In those instances, LexisNexis Academic will warn a user tha the results are a high number and ask if they researcher plans to proceed.  However, if the researcher does continue with the search, they will be provided with a list of courts on the left and how many of the retrieved cases are from that court.  This allows the researcher to narrow down the list to only a few sources.  Therefore, a researcher should not only know the party names, but also have a good idea of the court or state from which the case originated and, if at all possible, the year of the decision.
     
  3. By Topic:  A researcher can also retrieve cases by searching for a particular topic.  Researchers should limit topics to a few words so that searchers only return relevant sources.  Similar to searching by parties, results for searching by topic will provide researchers with a breakdown on the left side of the courts where the cases were retrieved so that researchers can narrow down their search to a specific court and state. 
  4. Keyword Search/Cases:  Doing a keyword search under cases allows for users to enter keywords, exclude words from searches, specify dates, as well as select the jurisdiction.

Overview of Legal Topics

Legal encyclopedias provide a general overview of nearly every legal subject.  Articles in these sources provide a brief overview of the law and key terminology.  Furthermore, they provide numerous references to primary source materials such as cases, statutes, and regulations.

US Law

  • United States Code - general and permanent laws of the United States
  • THOMAS - US legislative activity, bills, resolutions, etc.