Search opinions from specific courts

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 | 9:30 AM

When Itai joined the Google Scholar team recently, he noticed many differences between life in New York City and life in the San Francisco Bay Area. One pleasant difference was a sharp drop in near-death experiences involving taxis. With his background as a lawyer, Itai couldn't help but think that there must be a lot fewer taxi-related lawsuits in his new locale! Now that Google Scholar allows users to limit search to specific courts and jurisdictions, he can confirm it—court opinions mentioning a taxi in the Southern District of New York far outnumber those in the Northern District of California.

You can try this out yourself on Google Scholar's advanced search page. You can select a particular federal jurisdiction or state for your search. For example, try searching for cases involving oysters in tax courts or health insurance in Fourth Circuit courts. You can also pick specific courts by clicking on "Select specific courts" and checking off the ones you want. Then you can search for, say, recent opinions about oil spills in Louisiana state and federal courts or cases about election recounts in Florida, Minnesota and Alaska courts.

Finding the right precedent is of course the key to legal research. Here's hoping this new feature will help you find the right cases even faster.

Posted by Chris Hundt and Itai Gurari, Software Engineers