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Education & the Law

These pages contain resources for Mason Education students to seek multiple sources on the subject of Educational Law

How Do You Find Legal Cases?

The database Nexis Uni contains a wealth of information about legal cases related to education.  This section describes and gives examples of the three types of legal searches including:

  • Method 1: search for a topic (such as "special education")
  • Method 2: Use the Shepard tool to
  • Method 3: Search for a known case (such as Brown v. Board of Education)

NOTE: When searching off campus or outside of the Libraries, you must enter your Mason username and password to access Masondatabases.

Search for case by topic

  1.  Click on Cases

Click on the cases link

  1. Identification jurisdiction Federal or State

Indiicate federal or state jurisdiction

  1.  Choose what you are looking for in the about field.  For example: cases concerning “special education”.  Indicate a date range using the drop down list under "All Dates"

type in what you are searching for and select dates for serch

  1. Click search
  2. Narrow results by date, court, tribal affiliation, sources, publication status, practice areas, attorney, law firm most cited, keyword, judge
  3. Click on the case name to access information about the caseCilck on case name to access the case info
  4. You will see the following once you click on the case nameCase information

Use the following method when searching a known case.  For example: Arlington Central School District Board of Education v. Murphy

  1.  Click on Cases

Click on the cases link

  1. Identification the jurisdiction Federal or State

Indiicate federal or state jurisdiction

3.  Enter the name of the case in the About box.  In this case: Arlington Central School District Board of Education v. MurphyEnter name of case in search box

4.  In this case, we received 16 cases which are sorted by relevance and are in some way related to the Arlington Central School District Board of Education case

Case search results image

5.  Once can narrow your results further by:

  • Search within results
  • Adjusting the timeline
  • Narrow to more specific court
  • Publication status (Reported or unreported)
  • Sources
  • Practice areas and topics
  • Attorney
  • Law firm
  • Most cited
  • Keyword
  • Judge

Use the Shepardize feature to find additional information about the case.  In this case we will Shepardize: Board of Education v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176  When you access a case, you will notice a box on the right side of the page like the following:

Image of Shepard's Key

Click on the link which says "Reason for Shepard's Signal."   A new window opens.  In this case it tells me that it has been superseded by another statute

Reason for symbol image

Option 2:  Use the shep Command

  1. In Nexis-Uni, click on cases, then Federal, type shep: Phyllene W. v. Huntsville City Board of Education
  2. Click search
  3. Get 2 results
  4. Click on case name to read Shepardized information about the case

From within the case, I may Shepardize the case by clicking the link on the right side of the screen which says

Click on Shepardize this document image

Once you click on the link, you will see the Shepardized caseImage of shepardized case

The information can be narrowed further using the categories on the left side of the page.  They include:

  • Analysis - Including warnings, caution, positive, neutral and cited by information You may select multiple items in the category
  • Federal OR state courts OR multiple federal or state courts
  • Publication status: reported or unreported
  • Discussion including the following types of discussion
    • analyzed means:  the entry fully considers the cited reference;
    • Discussed means: it discusses the cited reference with some measure of analysis;
    • Mentioned means:  the cited reference is only briefly mentioned; and
    • Cited means:  it cites to the reference with minimal if any discussion
  • Headnotes for the case
  • Search within the Shepardized results
  • Time period

What Do the Icons, Colors & Symbols Mean?

The Shepard's® Citations Service provides a comprehensive report of the cases, statutes, secondary sources, and annotations that cite your authority, including more recent cases that rely on your starting case. You can use this report to quickly validate your research and ensure you have good law.  Shepard uses a series of colored icons to indicate speific information

Shepard's Indicators

  • Warning imageWarning: Negative treatment is indicated - The red Shepard's Signal indicator indicates that citing references in the Shepard's® Citations Service contain strong negative history or treatment of your case (for example, overruled by or reversed).
  • Negative treatment iconWarning: Negative treatment is indicated for statute - The red exclamation point Shepard's Signal indicator indicates that citing references in the Shepard's Citations Service contain strong negative treatment of the Shepardized™ section (for example, the section may have been found to be unconstitutional or void).
  • Questioned validity iconQuestioned: Validity questioned by citing references - The orange Shepard's Signal indicator indicates that the citing references in the Shepard's Citations Service contain treatment that questions the continuing validity or precedential value of your case because of intervening circumstances, including judicial or legislative overruling.
  • Possible negative treatment iconCaution: Possible negative treatment indicated - The yellow Shepard's Signal indicator indicates that citing references in the Shepard's Citations Service contain history or treatment that may have a significant negative impact on your case (for example, limited or criticized by).
  • Positive treatment iconPositive treatment indicated - The green Shepard's Signal indicator indicates that citing references in the Shepard's Citations Service contain history or treatment that has a positive impact on your case (for example, affirmed or followed by).
  • Citing references with analysis iconCiting references with analysis available - The blue "A" Shepard's Signal indicator indicates that citing references in the Shepard's Citations Service contain treatment of your case that is neither positive nor negative (for example, explained).
  • Citation information available iconCitation information available - The blue "I" Shepard's Signal indicator indicates that citing references are available in the Shepard's Citations Service for your case, but the references do not have history or treatment analysis (for example, the references are law review citations).

For additional information, click the following NexisUni Shepard's Help Link