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Finding Cases by Party Name or Citation  

This research guide furnishes instructions on how to decipher case citation information and how to find cases if you only have a party name.
Last Updated: Mar 10, 2011 URL: http://legalresearch.usfca.edu/FindingCases Print Guide RSS Updates

Finding Cases by Name Print Page
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Overview

Often in legal research you need to find a case, but you may have only the names of the parties, such as Bellotti v. Baird.  Sometimes, you may only have the name of one party, such as Cumis.  This guide will show you how to look up a case by party name on Lexis and Westlaw, by using a search engine such as Google Scholar, or by using print resources.

 

Finding Cases by Party Name on Google Scholar

You can use Google Scholar to find cases by party name.  From the Google Scholar Advanced Search page, enter the name or names that you know in the first search box labeled "with all of the words."  Under the "Legal Opinions and Journals" of the section of the Advanced Search menu, you can select your case's jurisdiction if you know it, or just "search all legal opinions and journals" if you're not sure of the jurisdiction.  Click on "Search Scholar" at the top of the Advanced Search page when you are finished entering in your information.

 

Finding Cases by Party Name on Lexis, Westlaw, and WestlawNext

On Lexis, follow these steps to find a case by party name:

  • Select the link "Get a Document" near the top of the Lexis research home page, then select "By Party Name."

  • Enter one or two names in the boxes labeled "Party," then use the buttons and pull down menus to select the court that decided the case if you know it. There are choices for searching multiple courts with one search if you don't know the exact court.
  • You can also select a date restriction if you know roughly when the opinion was issued.  Click on the "Search" button when you are finished.
  • If you are a member of the USF community but are not a USF law student, faculty, or staff member, you can use LexisNexis Academic to look up a case by party name.  Under the "Look Up a Legal Case" section of the home page, enter a party name or names in the search box labeled "Or by Parties."  Click the "Go" button when you are finished.

On Westlaw:

  • On the Law School home page, click on the link in the left-hand menu labeled "Find a Case by Party Name."
  • Enter one or two names, then use the buttons and pull down menus to select the court that decided the case if you know it. There are choices for searching multiple courts with one search if you don't know the exact court.  Click on "Go" at the bottom of the screen when you are finished.

On WestlawNext:

  • At the WestlawNext home page, type the name or names that you know in the search box. 
  • You can use the pull-down menu to the right of the search box to select a jurisdiction if you know it.  There are choices for searching multiple courts with one search if you don't know the exact court.  Click on "Search" to the right of the search box when you are finished.
 

Finding Cases by Party Name Using Print Resources

To use a digest's table of cases to find your case:

  • Pick a digest that most closely matches the jurisdiction and date of your case. If you don't know the jurisdiction or date, or if your jurisdiction isn't covered by any other digest, use West's "decennial" digests and West's General Digest, which cover all jurisdictions and all dates.  A list of print digests available at USF appears below.
  • Look for the table of cases volumes near the end of the digest. Cases are generally listed in alphabetical order by the party's name, regardless of whether the party is plaintiff or defendant. In older digests, if you only know the defendant's name, look for the "Defendant/Plaintiff Table."

To use advance sheets to find the most recent published cases:

  • Locate the advance sheets for the reporter in which you think the case appears. They will be paper-bound pamphlets shelved immediately after the bound volumes.
  • Look for a table of cases in the front of the advance sheet. Many advance sheets contain "cumulative" tables covering several months or multiple advance sheets.

 

Digests with Tables of Cases at USF Law Library

Jurisdiction Dates Digest USF Call No.
All 1658-1906 West's American Digest, vols. 21-25 KF 140 1897
Law Stacks
All 1907- West's Deccennial & General Digests
(These are shelved on the second floor, opposite U.S.C.A. and U.S.C.S.)
KF 140, KF 141 & KF 142
Law Stacks
U.S. Supreme Court 1754- United States Supreme Court Digest KF 101.1 .U55
Law Stacks
All Federal 1754-1938 West's Federal Digest KF127.F43
Law Stacks
All Federal 1939-1961 Modern Federal Practice Digest KF 127.M54
Law Stacks
All Federal 1961-1975 West's Federal Practice Digest, 2d KF 127 .W48
Law Stacks
All Federal 1975-1983
(approx.)
West's Federal Practice Digest, 3d KF 127 .W48 1984
Law Stacks
All Federal 1983-
(approx.)
West's Federal Practice Digest, 4th KF 127 .W48 1989
Law Stacks
California 1850-1950 West's Califonia Digest KFC 57 .W47
Law Stacks
California 1850-1973 New California Digest [McKinney] KFC 57 .C33
Law Stacks
California 1950- West's California Digest, 2d KFC 57 .W471
Law Stacks
California 1973-2003 California Digest of Office Reports, 3d KFC 57 .C34
Law Stacks
CT, DE, ME, MD, NH, NJ, PA, RI, VT, DC mid 1930's-2001 West's Atlantic Digest, 2d KF 135 .A71 W4
Law Stacks
IA, MI, MN, NE, ND,SD, WI mid 1930's-2001 West's North Western Digest, 2d KF 135 .N71 W4
Law Stacks
AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, KS, MT, NV, NM, OK, OR, UT, WA, WY 1850-1931 &
1931-1940
West's California and Pacific Digest KF 135 .P21 C3 &
KF 135 .P21 C 32
Law Stacks
AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, KS, MT, NV, NM, OK, OR, UT, WA, WY 1941-1959 West's Pacific Digest KF 135 .P21 P3
Law Stacks
AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, KS, MT, NV, NM, OK, OR, UT, WA, WY 1962-1978 West's Pacific Digest KF 135 .P21 W42
Law Stacks
AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, KS, MT, NV, NM, OK, OR, UT, WA, WY 1978- West's Pacific Digest KF 135 .P21 W421
Law Stacks
GA, NC, SC, VA, WV 1935-2001 West's South Eastern Digest, 2d KF 135 .S61 W47
Law Stacks
AL, FL, LA, MS 1809-1988 West's Southern Digest KF 135 .S81 W48
Law Stacks

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