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News from the Director

October 30, 2003

The Administrative Office of the Court's AOC (with a little help from Lexis-Nexis) has launched a free searchable online database of published California opinions. While it has some drawbacks, this new database has the advantage of being both free and comprehensive. The new site is actually a Lexis-Nexis webpage providing free access to all published California cases going back to 1850. You can search by party name, natural language search terms, and date. You can also pull opinions by citation.

There are a couple of potential drawbacks to the database. First, to access the webpage from the California Courts CourtInfo Opinions page, you must first click through an "Important Information" page and then a LexisNexis "Terms and Conditions" page. You can avoid the CourtInfo page and the "Important Information" page by book marking this page: http://www.lexisnexis.com/clients/CACourts/?. Or access the page from the FDAP free law library page . But there is no way to avoid the "Terms and Conditions" page. Second, the search engine is probably not a complete substitute for full–powered searching, using such services as Westlaw or Lexis. For instance, the cases do not include the interior page numbers, so you have to use a different source to get your jump cites.

Despite these possible drawbacks, the cost and comprehensiveness of the site may make it a helpful tool for those who don't pay a flat-rate for a more sophisticated service.


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