Answered By: Harry L. Whitlock II
Last Updated: Jun 28, 2017     Views: 39

Here are instructions on how to access case law in LexisNexis and Google Scholar. Both provide the full opinion of the court. However, LexisNexis provided analysis that is very useful for writing a legal brief.

This link is to a YouTube video on how to look up case law prepared by the UW Social Sciences librarian. The example is for "Texas v Johnson."

The following is a step-by-step explanation on locating case law. This example is for the case of "Moss v Spartanburg."


Go to the library homepage:

In the article search box, click on Databases link (yellow circle with orange book and white magnifying glass)

Under the "Databases by Title" box, click "L."

Scroll down the webpage and click on LexisNexis Academic.

Right above the search box, there is a box that reads "Search by Subject or Topic." Click on that button.

In the drop-down menu locate the "Legal" heading, then click "Federal and State Cases."

In the main search box type: moss v spartanburg

Click "Search."

Several results will be displayed. Click on the appropriate link for the desired case. Cases are sorted with the most recent rulings at the top of the search results. For this example, click on the first link.

The main page for the case will be displayed.

On the webpage, gray boxes with enclosed text provide some summary information, including the outcome. 

Scroll down to locate the opinion of the court.

In addition, there is a section titled"Lexis Headnotes" located after the case summary but before the specific information such as counsel and the outcome. This is material that LexisNexis has added in and is not part of the original legal documents.


Google Scholar: This search engine provides only the case outcome, unlike LexisNexis that provides analysis.

Go to

Type in Moss v Spartanburg

In the left-hand column there will be a link for "Case law." Click that link.

On that page, the second result is the Supreme court case (the first is the lower court of appeals)

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