Case Pulls

Case Pulls in the United States

To “pull a case” means to get a copy of a reported judicial decision.

To pull a case, you can (1) photocopy the case from the relevant reporter, if it’s available in your library, (2) print the case from a CD-ROM, again, if you have the CD-ROM, (3) get a copy from a law library’s document delivery service (see “Document Delivery Services”) or (4) get the case from an online source.

Online Sources: Online sources break down into three categories – Free Internet Sites, Subscription Services and Fee-Based Services.

(1) Free Internet Sites: The main advantage of free Internet sites is that they’re free. The main disadvantage is that they may not have official reporter page citations. Also, there is often no guaranty that they are accurate reflections of the original opinion, and the printout may not look so good.

My current go-to source for free case law is Google Scholar, which offers reliable text, internal page citations, excellent relevance ranking, and the deepest databases around. State cases go back to 1950, Federal Circuit Court cases go back to 1924 (F.2d volume 1), and the U.S. Supreme Court goes all the way back.

Some bar associations and legal newspapers provide passwords to their members/subscribers that provide access to free online caselaw databases, such as Casemaker and Fastcase. If you have a password, you’ll probably know and can use the site if appropriate.

Otherwise, to find out whether the decisions of a particular court are posted on the Internet, visit Findlaw, which has some of its own databases and links to most of the other good sites.

(2) Subscription Services: Bloomberg Law, Versuslaw, LOIS, Fastcase and Quicklaw all sell subscriptions to their online case databases. Fastcase and Casemaker are provided free to members of selected lawyer associations. If you have passwords to any of these services, that is probably the fastest, cheapest, easiest source for the cases you need. If you don’t have a password, try something else.

Lexis and Westlaw are probably the best known subscription sources. Unlike the services above, the cost for pulling cases using the Lexis and Westlaw systems is often billed back to the client at law firms. This is often worth it because Lexis and Westlaw have the most extensive collections available online, the case headnotes and other editorial features are awesome, and the printouts generally look great. For an extra fee, Westlaw offers a .pdf printout that looks exactly like page from a case reporter.

You can pull cases from Word documents using BriefCheck from Lexis or WestCheckfrom Westlaw.

More Information: For more information on Federal court cases, see the entry for the individual court (e.g., “United States Court of Federal Claims”). For more information on state court case, see the entry for the state (e.g., “Texas”). To get more information about the various U.S. courts and case reporters, see Fundamentals of Legal Research (West).

See Also

Citations
Shepardizing
State Cases
Unreported Decisions

Case Pulls: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Case Pulls. This part provides references, in relation to Case Pulls, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Case Pulls by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Case Pulls and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Case Pulls or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Case Pulls and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Case Pulls. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Case Pulls should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Case Pulls when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

*This resource guide is updated frequently. However, if you notice something is wrong or not working, or any resources that should be added, please notify us in any of the "Leave a Comment" area.

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