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Ohio Legal Research

ohio legal research ohio case law ohio statutes ohio legislative history

Three Basic Ways to Find A Case!


I. When You Have a Citation

If you have a legal citation, you will need to correctly identify each component to determine which reporter published you case.  Each citation is typically broken down into three basic components: the volume number; the reporter series; the page number. 

For example:       89 Ohio St. 93

89→ Volume # 83

Ohio St.→ Ohio State Reports

93→ Page # 93

Once you have deciphered the citation, you can use various resources to locate your case. 

  • Court Websites
  • Fee Databases:  Lexis, Westlaw, Bloomberg Law, Casemaker
  • Chase Law Library's or UC Law Library's Print Collection
  • Google Scholar

II. You Have A Case Name

If you have a case name (names of parties involved), there are several sources available that will enable you to locate the case.

  • Fee Services:  
    Lexis and Westlaw,  allow you to search for cases by party name.
  • Print Sources: 
    West’s Ohio Digest (KFO 57.W4) and Ohio Jurisprudence (KFO 80 .O345) both provide a TABLE OF CASES section at the end of each set.
    The TABLE OF CASES lists alphabetically the title of each case, by both Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s names and the volume and page of the reporter in which each is published. Once you have that info, you can plug it into a legal database, google, or look it up in the books. 

III. Finding A Case By Topic/Key Words

Locating cases on a particular topic can be a daunting task, especially if you are unfamilar with the area of law.  Here are a few suggestions to help out:

  • Use Secondary Sources to find cases on a particular subject.
  • Use West's Ohio Digest (KFO 57 .W4) and begin with the Descriptive Word Index.
  • Try a keyword search on a free Internet databases, such as Google Scholar.
  • Try a keyword or terms & connector search on Lexis, Westlaw, or CasemakerX.
  • If you are researching a statute or court rule, you can consult the print version of the statutes.  You can also research statutes and rules using Lexis or Westlaw.

Updating Your Case

Case law, like statues and regulations, is dynamic.  Therefore it's essential to determine whether or not your case is still good law.  In order to ascertain that fact, you will need to make use of a Citator. 

A Citator is a legal reference tool that helps you determine what has happened to your case after it was released.  Basically it takes the document and lists other documents that cite that document. 

The two major legal citators are Shepards, on Lexis, and KeyCite on Westlaw
When using a Citator, you’ll want to pay special attention to the “signal” given for your document.  In KeyCite, the signals are often flags, while in Shepards , the signals are often geometric shapes.  A red signal in both means that your document is in trouble and you need to find out why and how it affects your issue.