Tip of the Week: How to Search Case Law with Fastcase

Exploring HeinOnline, Fastcase, Searching, Tip of the Week, Tips and Tricks
Lauren Mattiuzzo

While HeinOnline includes a number of sources for locating case law, including our U.S. Supreme Court Library, Canada Supreme Court Reports, English Reports, and more, our partnership with Fastcase provides Core subscribers with access to additional case law jurisdictions. Fastcase, a leading next-generation legal research service, provides access to case law from additional courts such as federal circuit courts, federal district courts, state appellate courts, and much more. Let’s explore how to search case law with Fastcase in this week’s Tip of the Week!

How to Locate a Case

The Case Law tab located in the main search bar can be used to easily pull up a case citation, if you have it handy. For example, search for 367 F.3d 594 using this tab.

If the case is available in HeinOnline’s U.S. Supreme Court Library, users will be given the option to view HeinOnline’s PDF of the case or the Fastcase version within HeinOnline’s interface. If a case is only available via Fastcase, users will automatically be directed to the case.

As you can see above, the Fastcase display includes HeinOnline’s ScholarCheck. Users can view the articles and cases* that cite the case being viewed. Simply click on the hyperlinks provided. Additionally, users have the option to bookmark the case within their MyHein account. The PDF/Download feature provides printing and download options as well.

The red flag located on the upper left-hand side of the page is Fastcase’s Negative Treatment Indicator, also known as the Bad Law Bot. This tool displays a red flag when negative treatment has been posted to a case. 

Click the phrase, Negative Treatment Indicated, which is hyperlinked, to view a list* of cases that have overturned or reversed the case you are viewing.

Did you know cases can also be accessed throughout HeinOnline within documents? Citations in HeinOnline are highlighted blue. Clicking on these citations will retrieve the document, whether it is a case, article, or external website.

To find cases only available through Fastcase, navigate to the Fastcase database* from the list of subscribed databases in HeinOnline. Users are provided with a search tool listed directly on the database page.

From here, users have the ability to search by text, case name, citation, keyword, description, author, party, docket number, court, court abbreviation, and date. If users are searching for a specific state court or date range, they can enter that information as well.

For example, use the Case Name field from the drop-down menu and search for People v. LaValle, a landmark decision in the New York Court of Appeals on the death penalty in 2004. Add all the relevant information in the search boxes provided.

From the results page, the first result is the case we are looking for, and the second result is the slip opinion.

Searching Cases by Topic

If you’re not looking for a specific case and want to find cases surrounding a specific topic, you can use the main search bar on the HeinOnline Welcome Page.*

For example, let’s search for any cases on assisted suicide in the last four years. Using the main search bar, simply search for assisted suicide.

From the results page, refine your search by choosing Cases from the Section Type facet, and 2016 to date from the Date facet.

Fastcase LibGuide

To learn more about Fastcase features, subscription options, and search tips, visit our dedicated LibGuide!

Fastcase LibGuide

*These features are included with a Fastcase Premium subscription. Fastcase Premium is available by synchronizing an existing institutional Fastcase subscription with HeinOnline or by purchasing an upgrade through HeinOnline. For more information, contact marketing@wshein.com.

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