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PSCI 4210: Constitutional Law: Rights and Liberties

Library reserach guide for PSCI 4210
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Brea Henson
Willis Library, Room 080
Subjects: Political Science
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Searching in LexisNexis

Moot Court Assignment as described in your syllabus: The final portion of your grade is the moot court oral argument where you will represent a party before the U.S. Supreme Court (the panel will be the moot court team, law students, and attorneys as needed). The topic for the oral argument is drawn from a current controversy in the lower courts. It is a closed case problem so there will be a limited number of cases you have to use, BUT you may use all facts and statistics from external sources you find through doing legal research. The exercise is designed to help you develop argumentation and debate abilities. Part of this process is to assist you in doing research relating to legal topics. You and a partner are responsible for presenting oral arguments, however, you are each graded independently for your section of the assignment. You are both arguing on behalf of the same client, but you are arguing two different questions that have been certified for review. If your partner flakes out, you are responsible ONLY for your issue! The argument should last approximately ten (10) minutes including the time allotted for answering questions from the panel. You and your partner argue for a total of 20 minutes. These sessions are videotaped. 


Your professor would like for you to use Nexis Uni for ths assignment.

Go to Nexis Uni (if you are off campus, you will be asked to enter your EUID and Password) and follow the directions from Nexis Uni below.

How do I perform a basic content search?

You can either perform a broad search using the main search box on the home page, by searching all sources, content types, codes, and so forth. Or, you can apply Narrow By filters to your search to focus your search in specific areas, such as jurisdiction, content type, practice area, or topic.

Option 1: Create a board, unfocused search

To perform a broad, unfocused search:

  1. Enter your search terms in the search box.

  2. Make sure All Nexis Uni is selected.

  3. Click the search button ( Search ).

This search will allow you to see all the search results related to your search terms. The returned results pages will give you a snapshot of the number of results available in the available categories as well as further options to narrow by. The search terms will be auto highlighted in the results area.

Option 2: Create a board, unfocused search

To create a focused search query:

  1. Enter your search terms in the search box.

  2. Select All Nexis Uni to the left of the search button. The Narrow By options appear.

  3. Select Content CollectionCases and CodesNewsPractice areas and Topics, or Date Range from the left pane.

  4. Select the checkboxes for the filters you want to use. For this search, I selected Cases and Codes – US Supreme Court since you will be required to find Supreme Court cases in this class.

After getting the research results back, go to the snapshot box on the left. Click on “Cases.” This will show the 1 case result from this search.

If you select, “Law Reviews and Journals” you will find 36 law reviews and treatises.

 You can focus your results between these two categories by scrolling down to the Narrow By ^Category.


How do I search using the Nexis Uni Advanced Search form?

With the Nexis Uni® Advanced Search form, you can use the available form tools to focus your search on a specific content type. The form also includes tools to help you more easily create a search query string (or you can type a query string directly in search box.) A date filter helps you refine your search to a specific date range, and if you want to search in a specific source, you can search for that source directly on the form.

To use the Advanced Search form:

  1. While viewing the Nexis Uni Home page, click the Advanced Search link. The page changes to show your advanced search options.

  2. Choose the content type in which you want to search: AllNewsCompany and Financial, or Legal. Then, if available, choose the sub-content type from the list of options that appear.

  3. Enter your search term or phrase in the search box. Note: You can use Term Connectors to define multiple terms on which you want to search, and Proximity Connectors to define relationships between these terms. For example, if you want to find the words "gender" and "wage" within 2 words of "gap", you can use the w/n connector: gender AND wage w/2 gap.

  4. Use other options on the form as described below:



To search in a specific document segment

Next to the search box where you've entered your search term or phrase, click the All Fields drop-down list to the right of the search field to choose the segment in which you want your term to appear. See List of Searchable Fields (Segments).

To add other search terms or phrases to your search query

On the next row of the search form, click the drop-down list to the left of the search box and choose your connector. See Search Term Connectors.

When you enter a second term or phrase, Nexis Uni adds a third row, and so on, allowing you to enter as many search terms/phrases as you need.

To define a specific date range during which you want to search

Use the options under Date Range. See Restrict Search By Date (Advanced Search Form) for details. Note: You can also define the search date range directly in the search field. See How do I restrict my search to a specific date or date range? for a list of rules, operators, and examples to follow while using this method.

To further refine your search

Choose other content-related pre-search filters that appear based on your content and sub-content types. For example, if you're searching News, you can define the word length for news articles in your results.

To choose which sources you want to search in

In the Source box, enter all or part of the source name. Any sources that match what you enter will appear in the list for you to select.

To get help understanding which connectors are available as well as which search segment fields

Use the links under Definitions & Help.

  1. Once your search query is formed, click the Search button. Your search query is submitted and any results found appear in your Search Results.

Here is a sample search with descriptions.




If you need help please see Nexis Uni Help Page, contact your Political Science Librarian or your Legal Studies Librarian.

LexisNexis Case Information: What am I looking at?

The following are some of the features you will find in the case text::


Citation Signals

 The citation signal appearing next to a case name indicates whether the decision has received positive, negative, cautionary or neutral treatment in subsequent judgments. The signal is a summary of the annotation information available from the list of appeal proceedings and cases referring to this case. Clicking on these signals will take you to the citation entry for these decisions. Hover your mouse over the symbol for a description. (In this case, the Cautionary Treatment icon  means the case has been distinguished by a subsequent court).


Case citation information

Name of Parties (Plaintiff v. Defendant): DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Petitioners v. DICK ANTHONY HELLER
Case Number: No. 07-290
Official Citation (Volume Number 554 United States Reports Page 570): 554 U.S. 570

Parallel Citation (Supreme Court Reporter; United States Supreme Court Lawyer's Edition; Year of decision): 128 S. Ct. 2783; 171 L. Ed. 2d 637; 2008


History of the Case

Listed here are previous or subsequent proceedings relating to the primary case. The annotation before the case name listed indicates whether the case affirmed, varied, reversed, etc. the case before it. (In this case, the disposition was affirmed, meaning the appeal is dismissed, whether or not the decision of the court below is expressly affirmed. If the court of the citing case is evenly divided, the appeal is treated as dismissed.)


Case in Brief

This will link out to another document that provides an Enhanced Case Summary, Expanded Headnote Coverage, Jurisprudential Analysis, Legal Analysis, News, Links to Related Content, and the Case Text.


Emerging Issues Analysis

Covers trends, issues, and cases related to the DC vs. Heller case.


Case Summary

• Procedural Posture: describes the case’s procedural history (e.g., how this case arrived before this court).

• Overview: provides a brief review of the underlying facts, legal issues and the court’s holding(s).

• Outcome: contains the ultimate procedural disposition of the issue(s). (Lexis Advance)



LexisNexis headnotes identify the important quotes from a case and organize them by topic. After you’ve reviewed the case summary and read the case, use the LexisNexis headnotes to ensure you’ve uncovered all the important points of law. (The headnote icon  is an anchor that will provide further information on the Second Amendment on the following topic summary: Constitutional Law > Bill of Rights > Fundamental Rights > Right to Bear Arms.)


Additional Links