"Nota Bene" means "note this well" or "take particular notice." We at the O'Quinn Law Library will be posting tips on legal research techniques and resources, developments in the world of legal information, happenings at the Law Library, and legal news reports that deserve your particular attention. We look forward to sharing our thoughts and findings and to hearing from you.

N.B: Make a note to visit "Nota Bene" regularly.

-Spencer L. Simons, former Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law



Friday, March 18, 2011

Supreme Court Database

The Supreme Court Database, begun over 20 years ago by Professor Harold J. Spaeth, is a highly useful resource when conducting research about Court activities. It currently covers cases from the 1953 term forward, but the contributors hope to be able to include data for every decision since the Court's first case in 1792. It is usually updated 4 times per year.

There are 247 information variables for each case, and the Documentation portion of the database explains their design and how they are used.
In the database's Analysis section, you can search by case citation, name, or docket if you are only looking for information about a single case. For multiple cases, use the section's very detailed Set Data Parameters form, which allows searching to be tailored through a large number of options: Time/Era (restrict to a certain range of terms or particular Court personnel), Case Components (decision type, issues, legal provisions), Case Outcome, Proceedings Below, Parties, and Justice/Voting (vote type, which Justice wrote the majority opinion, etc.).
The results pages include graphs that display an overview of the search results, issue frequency and distribution, case details, and other information.

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