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Quick Caselaw Search: Finding, Saving, Printing, Sending A Case

In the first article in this series, we looked at the bar association web site, how to log on and get access to the Fastcase database. Now that we are in, the next several articles in our series will look at how to find cases, run searches, and sort results, using the tools that make Fastcase unique. So let's get started. The first screen we find bears the title QUICK CASELAW SEARCH. This screen is not the best place to run a full Boolean search, but this is a great screen to find a case. Simply type the case name into the Quick Caselaw Search box, e.g. Gideon v. WainwrightMiranda v. ArizonaYounger v. Harris


Click SEARCH and your result list will give you Gideon and all the cases that cite to it, though the case itself will always come up first. They are live links, so simply click on the case name to open the case, where you will find the standard presentation: citation, parties, attorneys, judges, text, and footnotes. If you need to incorporate a sentence or paragraph into a brief or letter, simply block and copy the desired text and tell the dialogue box if you want to past the text or paste the text with the Bluebook citation. (We love to make your lives easier!) 


Now that you have found your case, what can you do with it? Let us give you four choices: e-mail the case, add it to your library, add it to your print queue or deal with it (i.e. print or save) right away. The links for these four tasks will be on your screen, above the case. 

E-MAIL: Click here to e-mail the case to other Fastcase subscribers, starting with yourself! Use commas to separate e-mail addresses, if you need to send it to more than one colleague. 


ADD TO MY FAVORITES: This will put a case into your personal document library. Once you get it there, you can leave it in the general document cache, add it to an existing folder or put it into a folder you can create and name on the spot. 

 

ADD TO MY PRINT QUEUE: The print queue is a batch printing facility under the PRINT button on your command bar. We'll say more about it in our discussion (a couple articles down the road) on statute searching. For now, we can say that the print queue gives users the ability to print or save as a grouping several cases or statute sections. You will be able to print or save them as individual documents in a zip file or as a single continuous document, with each new case or statute section beginning on a new page. 

PRINT/SAVE: You also have the ability to deal with a case at once by printing or saving it immediately, as either a Microsoft Word document or a .pdf document. You will have here a chance to make choices, e.g. to highlight or not highlight search terms or to present the case in a single-column format or a double-column format. 

When Fastcase was created in 1999, the founders thought that access to the law was both a practical and a philosophical question: should not attorneys, and indeed the general public, have effective and affordable access to the laws under which we live? Fastcase has made every effort over the years not only to digitize the law, but to democratize it a well. You will see above the case text an important step in that process, the PUBLIC LINK. Most commercial databases have an e-mail function, though it is somewhat problematic whether the case will open properly or not if the recipient does not have a subscription to that particular database—and therefore a recognized e-mail address. There is no such difficulty with the Fastcase Public Link. Click on the Public Link to open a full text version of the decision with no copyrighted or proprietary matter, block and copy that url in your browser bar and e-mail it to colleagues or clients. That url will open up anywhere there is internet access, whether the recipient has a database subscription or not. 

The other feature of this opening page that may be of interest to users is the list, down the left side of the page, of searchable resources. These are broad categories. Please note that the last three categories (Search Newspapers, Search Federal Filings, Search Legal Forms) are present at the request of several of our bar association partners. They are not part of the Fastcase database and link to outside services. All the other categories which you are able to search are part of the Fastcase database, and you will not incur any usage charges for any of those materials. 

 

So that is the story of the opening page, the Quick Caselaw Search. Stay tuned for the nuts and bolts of searching!