Case Finding Procedures

For citations with which you are unfamiliar, use either Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations (behind the Circulation Desk), The Bluebook (KF245 .U5) or the ALWD Citation Manual (KF245 .A45). The latter two are located in the Reserve Area.

For case names, look in the Table of Cases for either West's Ohio Digest (KFO57 .W4 in Ohio Materials) or Ohio Jurisprudence 3d (KFO65 .O5 Reserve Ohio Materials). The same procedure applies to other states and federal cases. Use the digest for a specific state or regional reporter (e.g. New York Digest or Northwestern Reporter), or for federal cases use the Federal Practice Digest (KF127 .W495).

If you have a cite to very old state cases (not ones from Ohio) they may not be in the states area of the library. You will have to look in the compact shelving on the third floor. For old Ohio case law, consult the research guide on Ohio Case Law.

Finding Case Law with LexisNexis Academic

The easiest way to find case law is to become familiar with LexisNexis Academic. Go to our Lexis and Westlaw page, then click on the service. If you have a case name or a citation, enter it into the appropriate field in the “Get a Case” box. If you need to search a subject, choose “Legal Research” and then the jurisdiction you need (state or federal). If searching for state cases, you will then have to choose a particular state. 

  • Use drop down menu to choose the court (high, appellate, low, or all).
  • Specify a time frame or specific date.
  • Enter in the search terms. If you have a cite, we should have the book on the shelf. For subject searches, you should use connectors to reduce the number of results (you can locate explanations and examples of searches by scrolling down on the search page).
    • dui w/p suspension will find cases with the terms dui and suspension in the same paragraph.
    • dui w/s suspension will find cases with dui and suspension in the same sentence.
    • dui and suspension will find cases with dui and suspension anywhere in the case, but not necessarily close to each other.
    • dui or suspension will find cases with either dui or suspension; this technique will yield too many results.
  • When the search result appears, the list contains links to the full text of the case.
  • Within the full text of a case, use the KWIC (Key Words in Context) key at the top of the window. This allows you to look only at those parts of the case with the search terms.

If you want to search only within a particular state appellate or Federal District or Circuit Court, use the following examples:

  • County: dui w/p suspension and court (Montgomery)
  • Appellate District: dui w/p suspension and court (second)
  • Federal District Court: dui w/p suspension and court (Ohio) (will find cases originating within the District Courts of Ohio)
  • Federal Circuit: dui w/p suspension and court (sixth) (the Sixth Circuit includes Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan)

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