Criminology 330 legal research at sfu library
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Criminology 330: Legal Research at SFU Library. Yolanda Koscielski , Liaison Librarian for Criminology September 2011 [email protected] Objectives:. 1. Finding cases By known citation By topic 2. Locating journal articles and commentaries (by lawyers and other writers) on your topic

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Criminology 330: Legal Research at SFU Library

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Criminology 330 legal research at sfu library

Criminology 330:

Legal Research at SFU


Yolanda Koscielski, Liaison Librarian for Criminology

September 2011

[email protected]



1. Finding cases

  • By known citation

  • By topic

    2. Locating journal articles and commentaries (by lawyers and other writers) on your topic

    3. Experience searching 5 legal databases

Sfu library legal research guides

SFU Library Legal Research Guides

  • Legal Information guide


  • “Research by Publication Type” legal research web pages


  • Browse databases by subject area – Law


Case citation

Case Citation

Style of cause = plaintiff and defendant

This report can be found in the 69th volume of the Dominion Law Reports on page 433

The "2nd" tells you that the DLR has been published in multiple series; the second series was 1956-68

SCBC indicates this was a Supreme Court of British Columbia decision

Case citation1

Case Citation

Wells v. Newfoundland (1997), 156 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 271, 483 A.P.R. 271, 5 Admin. L.R. (3d) 113, (N.L.C.A.)

The same citation as seen online in LawSource:

1997 CarswellNfld 199

Known cases

Known Cases

The terms Case Law, Reasons for Decisions, Judgment (*no ‘e’!) are often used interchangeably

Reasons for Decisions = case law before officially published by a court reporter or legal database. Check court website.

Main content of published case law/judgments should be identical, regardless of reporter

Case Law/judgments available through both free and subscription sources

Case law sources

Case Law Sources

  • Free

    • CANLii (Canada) (includes RefLex Record)

  • Subscription

    • Law Source (includes KeyCite Canada)

    • CriminalSource (KeyCite Canada)

    • CriminalSpectrum

    • BestCase (includes a noteupcitator)

    • QuickLaw (includes QuickCITE)

  • Demo:

    Wells v. Newfoundland (1997), 156 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 271, 483 A.P.R. 271, 5 Admin. L.R. (3d) 113, (N.L.C.A.)

Interpreting lawsource symbols

Interpreting LawSource symbols

A red flagwarns you that the case may not be good law, indicating that the decision has been reversed, or has not been followed within the same jurisdiction or by the Supreme Court of Canada.

A yellow flagwarns that the decision has some negative history or treatment, but has not been reversed or overruled. (Or, it was recently added to LawSource, and it and has not yet been editorially analysed).

Note: If a decision has a red or yellow flag, any decision lower than it in the direct history chain will also have a status flag at least as severe assigned to it.

Examples of levels in Court in Civil Cases can be Provincial (BCSC), Provincial Court of Appeal (BCCA), and Supreme Court of Canada (SCC)

1 lawsource

1. LawSource

  • Case Law

  • Federal and Provincial Legislation

  • Index to Canadian Legal Literature (ICLL)

    • Search the ICLL for secondary legal literature (e.g., journal articles)

  • Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (CED)

  • Canadian Abridgment Digest (CAD)

  • Words and Phrases Judicially Defined

  • KeyCiteCanadacitator

Case law by topic

Case Law by topic

  • Use the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (CED)The CED will always point you to major cases which have established the legal points in question. The CED is available electronically through LawSource. It provides a comprehensive statement of the law (legislation + case law)

  • Use the Canadian Abridgement for summaries of case law. This is yet another resource which we have available online through LawSource.

  • See guide, Finding Legal Cases by Topic:


1 lawsource tips

1. LawSource Tips

  • Multiple products on one platform that can be browsed/searched separately

  • Browse functions on the left, search on the right

  • Browsing trees can be searched

  • Click on LawSource (or CriminalSource) tab to revert to main search screen

  • Quirk: default search operator is usually “OR”, not “AND”.

    • Solution: use quotation marks to search by a phrase or add the word “AND” between each search term

General tips

General Tips

  • Legal Databases have search or browse feature

  • Less can be more

    • For instance, can enter the partial title of an article

    • Caution with numbers, symbols, colons (7, -, :), etc. These may not be indexed, (giving you false less/no results)

Articles commentaries by lawyers and other writers on your topic

Articles/commentaries by lawyers and other writers on your topic

Index to Canadian Legal Literature, aka ICLL (Available via LawSource)

Books/Textbooks (library catalogue)

HeinOnline (database or indexed via Fast Search)

LexisNexis – International Legal Literature – Canadian Law Journals and QuickLaw

Criminal Spectrum

Criminal Source

Legal journals

Legal Journals

  • Legal Ethics:

    • Electronic Journals > Legal Ethics > Ingenta platform for current access

  • HeinOnline

    • Journal Articles & Databases > “H” > HeinOnline > Law Journal Library

  • Not sure if we have a journal @ SFU Library?

    • Books, Journals, Media (Catalogue) > select “Journal Title” from drop-down menu and search by journal title

    • Above method searches both print and online

2 criminalsource

2. CriminalSource

  • Case Law

  • Canadian Criminal Legislation

  • Canadian Sentencing Digest

  • Criminal Reports

  • Criminal Law Evidence, Practice and Procedure

  • Disclosure and Production in Criminal Cases

  • Watt’s Manual of Criminal Evidence

  • Canadian Criminal Law Review

  • National Journal of Constitutional Law

2 criminalsource tips

2. CriminalSource Tips

  • Busy interface! Note Search Templates for different products/info types on left, including All CriminalSource Content

  • Access law digests from the CAD from the bottom links (Carswell's Criminal Law Digest)

  • When keyword searching for specific titles, you do need quotation marks or AND in-between your search terms

  • Browse a particular source with left-hand option of “other commentary”; an empty search is possible if you’d like to browse issues by date

3 criminalspectrum

3. CriminalSpectrum

  • Key texts and journal content in Commentary section

    • Criminal Law Quarterly

    • Canadian Criminal Procedure

    • Criminal Pleadings & Practice in Canada

  • Martin’s Criminal Code (in Commentary section)

  • Case law

  • Criminal Legislation

  • Includes NoteUpcitator

3 criminalspectrum tips

3. CriminalSpectrum Tips

  • Search on the right, browse on the left

  • Browse individual books/journals (e.g., Drug Offences in Canada) in the Commentary section, left-hand side

  • Martin’s Criminal Code is found under Commentary>Criminal Legislation>Martin’s Criminal Code and Related Legislation

4 bestcase

4. BestCase

  • Many law reports

    • Canadian Criminal Cases (C.C.C.)

    • Dominion Law Reports (D.L.R.)

  • Includes NoteUpcitator

4 bestcase tips

4. BestCase Tips

  • Search for cases by citation in the Case Law Section

    • e.g., 258 C.C.C. (3d) 144

    • Note the prescribed format for case law searching

  • Search by for cases by style of cause

    • E.g. R v. Punko

  • Search for cases by phrase in the case

    • Catchline: searches topical classification & short, telegraphic phrases

    • Full-text: searches “matches in the body of the decision”

5 quicklaw

5. QuickLaw

  • Case Law

  • Legislation

  • Legal Journals

  • Commentators

  • Citator: QuickCITE

  • By LexisNexis

5 quicklaw tips

5. QuickLaw Tips

  • Note Quick Search boxes

    • E.g., Find a case by name, find a case by citation

  • Note Tab Searching option

    • E.g., Legislation, Journals, etc.; brings up search templates

  • Need to search within a particular book, journal, or other title?

    • Enter keywords of source title in the quick search box, “Find a Source”, found on the main page

  • Many ways to get to the same content in QuickLaw

  • Login