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William A. Roper, Jr.
NOTE:  I posted this informaiton in reply to a query relating to Indiana cases.  But it occured to me that this was a useful topic meritworthy of its own dedicated message thread.  For that reason, I am repeating the text of the prior post.


Lexis-Nexis
Lexis-Nexis is an online fee-based legal information repository.  It is VERY EXPENSIVE to use with several notable exceptions.

First, very often academic or county law libraries (in large counties) make an academic version of Lexis available for free for in library use by patrons.  Moreover, many other non-law academic libraries also make Lexis availabe from computers within the college or university library.  For example, I have found that most county community colleges in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have FREE Lexis available within their libraries.  I cannot speak to availability in other states, but I would encourage you to CALL or VISIT both your local community library, as well as the libraries of nearby colleges and universities.  ASK if they have Lexis.

Bear in mind that while the academic libraries are primarily intended for enrolled students, some of these are also publicly funded and are also sometimes government document repositories.  In these instances, the library is open to the general public.

Second, Lexis has a Lexis by Credit Card feature that allows for searching and retrieval of cases for registered users who are NOT regular subscribers, but who agree to PAY through their credit card.  The Lexis by Credit Card feature is available from:

http://web.lexis.com/xchange/ccsubs/cc_prods.asp


Lexis by Credit Card is a VERY EXPENSIVE way to pull up cases ($9 per case).  BUT SEARCHES ON LEXIS BY CREDIT CARD ARE FREE.

The Lexis search facility is unsurpassed in its power once you learn how to use it effectively.

I use my Lexis by Credit Card account to search for cases, FINDING THEM FOR FREE.

Once I have located a case which is interesting, I typically adopt one of the alternative strategies described below, rather than actually paying $9 to pull up the cases I find.

LexisOne
LexisOne is a FREE "light" version of Lexis.  LexisOne is accessible from:

http://law.lexisnexis.com/webcenters/lexisone


The LexisOne search is NOT nearly as powerful as the searches available at Lexis.  But LexisOne has a Free Case Law feature, which makes available ALL U.S. Supreme Court cases going back to 1789, together with the past TEN YEARS of published Federal and State appellate cases.

You will NOT find state trial court cases here.  Nor will you find U.S. District Court cases.  And the cases which are more than ten years old are NOT available either.

For arcane areas of the law where there are very few published opinions, LexisOne can be pretty anemic.  But for topics and issues addressed regularly by state appellate courts, ten years of case law can furnish a LOT of insight.

Where recent cases CITE older cases, you can put these on a list to LOOK UP on a trip to your community law or academic library.

State Court Web Sites
Many state court systems now make state court appellate decisions available online, but the offerings vary widely from state to state.  Some states have terrific sites with exceptional accessibility.  Other states are lagging far behind in technology.

Generally, the state courts are only making cases available online prospectively AFTER they began presenting decisions there.  That is, most have NOT gone back and posted older decisions.  But many court systems have been online long enough now that they have a decade or more of online decisions, in some instances both published and unpublished opinions.

Google Scholar
Only a few weeks ago, a user of MS Fraud alerted me to the fact that Google now has a feature called Google Scholar, which makes quite a bit of case law available for FREE.

Google Scholar may be found from the drop down menu of additional choices at the regular Google main page.  Or you can bookmark this page:

http://scholar.google.com/schhp?hl=en&tab=ws


I have since found that Google Scholar, which is still in its infancy, is a very nice supplement to LexisOne.  Though I have only been using Google Scholar for several weeks, I have several tentative observations:

  • LexisOne is more COMPLETE than Google Scholar at this time as to published state and Federal appellate cases within the past ten years
  • Google Scholar makes some significant older state and Federal cases available, which cannot be found on LexisOne
  • Coverage for very old cases is very spotty within Google Scholar EXCEPT FOR U.S. Supreme Court cases
I believe that we can reasonably surmise that Google is committed to this project and that the holdings/inclusion of cases will become more complete over time.

*

Realize that I have now shown FOUR different ways to obtain cases for FREE.  For recent state and Federal appeallate cases and ALL U.S. Supreme Court cases, LexisOne is readily available FREE to registered users.  Similarly, both recent published and unpublished cases are available at many state court web sites.  Google Scholar gives some additional older cases not available on the state court or LexisOne sites.  A trip to the library can very often result in access to the older cases through a free academic version of Lexis on library computers.

*

PACER
ALL current Federal cases are enrolled in the Federal online PACER system.  U.S. District court and appellate decisions are available from PACER for FREE, though like LexisOne, you need to have an account.  A LOT of other documents are also available through PACER at $0.08 per page.  

*

The Buddy System
I have found that it is helpful to team up with other pro se litigants in a "Buddy System" of sorts.  When I am headed to a local law library or an academic library with Lexis access, I usually e-mail one or more correspondents to see if they need me to look up some cases for them.  That is, if they can TELL ME that they need a particular case, it is TRIVIAL to pull up the case while at the library and E-MAIL IT to the other person.

My "Buddies" reciprocate and let ME know when they are visiting a library with Lexis access.  In this way, we help one another to obtain copies of the older cases without the necessity of a trip to the library ourselves.

*

ASK YOUR LIBRARIAN!  I was doing some legal research at the Penn Law Library about five years ago and a reference librarian gave me a quick lesson in using the Lexis search features.  Lexis has features which are not readily replicated in other general search engines.  Learn to make use of the power of the search tools.  Then you can find just about anything that you want.

*

I find myself reading twenty or more legal decisions a week.  I have paid less than $100 per year to Lexis by judicious use of alternatives to paying for each case.  But I almost ALWAYS use the Lexis search facility, even when I use the other data repositories to pull up the cases.  This is pretty easy to do by using multiple Windows.

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Scholar
Here is another thread that contains some useful research suggestions updated to include Google Scholar, which seems to have been named after me!
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Bob G
William

When did u grad from Penn?  What school?
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William A. Roper, Jr.
Bob:

I was a student in Wharton's undergraduate division.  I entered Penn in the Autumn of 1975 with the class of 1979, but did not graduate with my class.

I returned to Penn briefly in the early 1990s.  During my second incarnation at Penn, I served as the teaching assistance in the Law of Real Estate Finance for three semesters.

So there are two cohorts of students at Penn with whom I am acquainted, though probably better acquainted with those with whom I entered.

Did you go to Penn, Bob?

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Bill
William gave me this info earlier and I found this super helpful not only finding cases which I was having a problem with, but also reading more in depth about a topic which I think was the most helpful. 

Google scholar was a huge help because when I found a case, the cases that were relied on by the court (the cited cases) to make it's decision a lot of the time were linked to the page. 

Thanks for all the help William.


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William A. Roper, Jr.
It is probably a good idea to crosslink the earlier thread on this same topic, though it contains much the same information:

"Some Online Legal Resources for Those on a Tight Budget (or Not)" [08/01/07 at 06:43 PM]

http://ssgoldstar.websitetoolbox.com/post?id=2060046

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s

This was useful!!!  

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Nancy

Quote:
Second, Lexis has a Lexis by Credit Card feature that allows for searching and retrieval of cases for registered users who are NOT regular subscribers, but who agree to PAY through their credit card. The Lexis by Credit Card feature is available from:

http://web.lexis.com/xchange/ccsubs/cc_prods.asp


Lexis by Credit Card is a VERY EXPENSIVE way to pull up cases ($9 per case). BUT SEARCHES ON LEXIS BY CREDIT CARD ARE FREE.

 

 

This LEXIS by Credit Card doesn't work either.

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J

I use the PACER system, the charge is only .08 cents per page and if the document exceeds 30 pages the remaining pages are free.

 

 https://www.pacer.gov/psco/cgi-bin/regform.pl

 

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Walt

Although Federal case law is usually less helpful in state foreclosure cases, it bears mention that Open Jurist is now a useful and FREE source of Federal appellate case law:

 

Open Jurist

http://openjurist.org/

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Walt

Quote:
I use the PACER system, the charge is only .08 cents per page and if the document exceeds 30 pages the remaining pages are free.

https://www.pacer.gov/psco/cgi-bin/regform.pl

  

 

It also bears noting that most Federal court written decisions are available on PACER for FREE.  The $0.08 charge per page by J is for other documents within a case.  Most orders also cost $0.08 per page, but for a written opinion, this charge is waived

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John Lewis

Nancy: quote: "This LEXIS by Credit Card doesn't work either."

 

As of April 5, 2011 LexisNexis will no longer offer the website LexisNexis® by Credit Card

 http://web.lexis.com/xchange/ccsubs/cc_prods.asp,

nor the transactional access to enhanced case law via Free Case Law. 

 

For continued access to convenient and affordable LexisNexis research content, please contact a representative at 888-285-3947 - option 2 to learn more about lexis.com® subscription options.

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Walt

Quote:
Nancy: quote: "This LEXIS by Credit Card doesn't work either."

As of April 5, 2011 LexisNexis will no longer offer the website LexisNexis® by Credit Card

http://web.lexis.com/xchange/ccsubs/cc_prods.asp,

nor the transactional access to enhanced case law via Free Case Law.

For continued access to convenient and affordable LexisNexis research content, please contact a representative at 888-285-3947 - option 2 to learn more about lexis.com® subscription options.

 

 

It is regrettable that LEXIS by Credit Card is a discontinued service, but the cost of the service is so high that it should be avoided except in the most urgent situations.  Many academic libraries, including libraries at community colleges, have a full Academic version of LEXIS for use for FREE within the library.

 

Also, WestLaw still has a case search and retrieval service that can be used with a credit card.

 

Between LEXISOne, Google Scholar, Open Jurist and PACER, though, as well as the state courts web sites, there is an enormous amount of law available online for FREE. 

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rickyponting
For any type of information about Law and Lawyer check it out.

Family Lawyer

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