August 9, 2013
When you are conducting legal research, you always want to make sure that you have the most recent cases with the highest authority. WestlawNext already does some of the work for you by sorting case law by relevance. And, you can further narrow and navigate your search results with filters.
For example, I only want to find case law on comparative negligence from the Minnesota Supreme Court, and I only want the case law to be from the last three years. Here’s how I would conduct this search:
First, conduct a search through Minnesota Cases for comparative negligence. You can either use plain language or Boolean terms and connectors to run the search. For demonstration purposes, I used a terms and connectors search (comparative /3 negligence) – you will get 597 cases.
WOW! That’s a lot of cases. But, let’s use filters to help us narrow the results. First select the Cases link under VIEW and then scroll down to the NARROW section.
First we are going to select a jurisdiction. We only searched in one state above, so Minnesota should be the only jurisdiction displayed. Select the “+” to the left of the white box to display the different courts within Minnesota. You will see that 409 of our initial case results are from the Minnesota Supreme Court. Click the white box next to the Supreme Court so that a green check-mark displays.
One of two things will happen after you click the green box, either you page will reset and you will now have only 409 cases displayed – this is the default setting to apply the filter each time it is selected. If nothing happens look directly below NARROW, if it says “Apply Filters” or “Cancel” then you have the select multiple filters setting – click the Apply Filters button. You will receive the same results with either method.
With our jurisdiction selected, it is now time to narrow to the most recent case law. Scroll down below the Jurisdiction section and select the drop-down menu under Date. The date filter defaults to “All” dates.
You will then be given options to select default date restrictors (last 6 or 12 months or last 3 years). I selected last 3 years as I can see there are 6 cases. Again your page will either automatically reset or you will have to click the Apply Filters button. Your end result should be 6 cases from the Minnesota Supreme Court, from the past 3 years, that discuss comparative negligence! See how filters make reviewing cases much more manageable!