Google Legal Opinions Research of Court Case Decisions

As an option of the Google Scholar tool (a search portal for scholarly literature), there is now a separate search function option which taps into an indexed collection of millions of freely available legal decisions provided by Google and other Web sites.

It is interesting to view cases related to properties held by the Chiel Rosenblatt Family Trust (and managed in most cases by Ari Paul of RCR Management LLC) “DBAs (Doing Business As)” LLCs. For example, here are the results pages for searching on “Georgia Properties”, “Riverside Syndicate”, and  “Mayflower Development”. Of special interest are the cases involving a real estate broker “Rita Citrin” who has rented many of their apartments and whose creative legal malpractice lawsuit is described on the NY Attorney Malpractice blog as she instantly morphed from defendant in one case to plaintiff vs. her former counsel immediately after a stipulation in the first case. There are cases of a few attorneys they employ such as “Horing Welikson”, “Fleishell”, and “Kucker & Bruh” . Using quotes around the words narrows down the search results relevancy. Trying variations of the DBA names such as dropping the LLC is worth experimenting with as well. Don’t forget to click on the legal opinions radio button first, as seen in the picture at the end of this post.

The tool is intended to make critical legal opinions more accessible and understandable for ordinary people curious about the decisions that shape and clarify the law of the land. From the Google Scholar home page, users can enter the name of a case, its number or a key phrase, like “primary residence holdover” or “luxury deregulation”, dhcr, +dhcr +mci, +dhcr +mbr (both without quotes) and retrieve a list of results that include the full text of the decision from all available sources.

While Google offers links out to other sites like Justia or LII, it also provides its own copies of decisions. Within those decisions, Google’s tools find any mention of other cases and statutes and provides hyperlinks that take users directly to cited decisions. Advanced search options also allow users to return only results from federal courts or from any selected state courts. Users can also opt to return decisions written within a particular date range.

Each result lists how many times that particular case has been cited in other decisions. By clicking on the “How Cited” button next to the case title, users can view a list of excerpts from other decisions where that case is cited, as well as links to those and similar opinions, as determined by Google search algorithms that connect cases based on topic and related citations. The tool also taps into a collection of legal journals available through Google Scholar. Depending on access restrictions, users can either view a passage or full article.

For legal professionals, it also provides a new option for finding legal documents when case titles or citations aren’t readily available and drawing connections between cases and how they are employed in subsequent opinions. How often cases are updated varies from court to court, as Google Scholar is still in beta, but Google is collecting feedback from users to fine-tune the functionality and explore new features to improve the service, which might eventually displace some of the high-end paid providers like Lexis and Westlaw.