Medina County Courthouse

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Google Adds Legal Opinions & Articles to Search Engine

The search engine Google has added legal opinions and journals to the material that can be searched by going to the website A visitor to the Google website can access this feature by clicking on the word "more" that appears in the tool bar at the top of the Google website. A menu then drops down which lists several choices. One of the choices listed is "Scholar". When the visitor clicks on the word "Scholar" he or she goes to a new search page which allows you to type in search terms and then you can choose articles that involve patents or legal opinions and journals.

Let's suppose that a visitor wanted to look for opinions that had the terms "Supreme Court of Ohio", "due process" and "traffic stop". Our visitor would go to the Google website, click on the word "more" in the tool bar and then click on the word "Scholar" in the drop down menu. Once our visitor was directed to the "Scholar" page, he or she would type in the terms listed above, click on the choice of "legal opinions and journals" and then conduct the search.

Our hypothetical visitor would then find that there were 122 matches for those terms. They would include both Ohio Supreme Court opinions as well as opinions from other courts such as the United States Supreme Court. Our visitor would then click on the matches that he or she thought were relevant to the search.

The main advantage to this Google feature is that unlike either the Lexis or Westlaw search engines, it is free. The main disadvantage is that unlike those search engines, the search cannot be directed to just one state's law.

One possible use for this feature is that in courthouses like ours in Medina County which have free Wi-Fi Internet access it would be possible to do some quick free research while waiting for court hearings.

There is also an article about this feature on the "Scholar" page that explains in more detail what Google wants to accomplish with this feature. The article also lists some of the people involved in this project. This new feature is definitely worth the time it takes to check it out.

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