Casemaker—FREE Legal Research

Free Casemaker ResearchCasemaker, provided FREE to you as a member of the State Bar of Michigan, will save you hundreds of dollars every month on legal research. The State Bar of Michigan has partnered with Casemaker to bring premium state and federal research materials to its membership. This service provides case law, constitution, and statutes for all 50 states, including the District of Columbia. In addition the service provides Michigan primary law, administrative code, state court rules, federal court rules, attorney general opinions, and the model civil jury instructions.

Casemaker offers features that Michigan attorneys have been asking for:

  • Live chat is an instant messaging system that connects with Casemaker customer support, find the live chat link at the top of the screen while logged in
  • Get faster search results with a more intuitive interface
  • Personalized search history, save & reuse your research
  • Save research in folders organized your way

Members also have access to several advanced legal research tools, including a case citation tool that simultaneously runs a search for secondary and/or third part treatises and publications, and a tool capable of searching all customized books within any state and/or federal library in a single query.

Accessing Casemaker

To access this member benefit simply log in to the member area and select the Casemaker tab on the right. There are several helpful user guides published within the Casemaker system. In addition, you can click on Webinar at the top of the Casemaker site to sign-up for online training.

New Casemaker4 Features

Time to turn on that printer and let it get warmed up!

Did you find that document you wanted? Maybe you would like to print out a copy to read on the plane? Just click Print. You will find the printer icon in the dark grey tool bar along the top of the document you are reading. Clicking on the print icon allows you to choose the document format you are printing to. You can also choose if you would like to print the case in single or dual column layout. You can include highlighting for the terms you searched for, print the citing references, as well as the negative treatment if you have Case Check + access. Here you can attach your notes as well as a cover page.

Let’s say we wanted to save this case to print later. This is the purpose of the Print Queue. You will notice in the dark grey bar there are two icons with a plus (+) symbol. One of these will add just the document to your print queue. The second icon will add the document and any citing references or annotator results as well.Clicking one of these icons will add the document, or documents, to your print queue.

Once you are ready to view the Print Queue you can click the Print Queue link in the upper right Features Toolbar. The Print Queue page provides the list of documents you’ve added to your print queue. You can also directly add documents to your print queue using the locate search bar. Just type in a citation to add that document to the print queue. You can choose to print all of your queue or just checked items you select. Other options in the Print Queue bar allow you to remove items from the queue or clear the queue entirely, as well as review my print history.

Now let’s take a look at browsing. Let's get started!

When you open Casemaker4, you will see a list of states. This State Library page is your default landing page. This list includes all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. On the left, you can change the page to be a list of Federal materials or Tribal court materials. Additionally, using the left-side menu, you can view the materials by Compilation type and see Archived materials from previous years. These same menus are available in the menu bar below the search bar and can be found on any page, clicking on a menu item in this upper-bar area will then direct you to the corresponding page.

From the State menu or library page, clicking on a state provides you with a listing of collections that the state has to offer and the currency or coverage for each collection. Each state is going to offer you different collections—at a minimum giving you access to case law, constitution, administrative code, court rules, statutes, and session laws. Casemaker defaults to List View, and you can select or change this in the blue navigation bar about the list of contents. List View allows you to navigate through the particular items in an index or table of contents fashion. Another option available is Tree View which will allow you to expand and collapse the information that you're looking for in a directory tree-like structure. This not only allows you to have a more visual frame of reference for where you are in the library, but it also allows you to explore the content around a particular statute as well as viewing the structure and contents of previous year versions. If you prefer List View, you can also view previous versions of content by clicking on the Archive option in the blue navigation bar.

As you browse Casemaker the search bar updates to match where you are. So, if you clicked on Virginia, then Statutes—the search bar will show you that any queries you enter will only search Virginia Statutes. You can always override this by specifically selecting your jurisdictions or compilations from the Jurisdiction/Compilation menu.

While in list view, if you are browsing materials that have sections, such as statutes or administrative codes, you will notice a small search bar in the upper right of the list of content. This search bar allows you to enter in just the section number and be taken directly to that section in the content.

While viewing a document in list view, you will notice that in the grey bar across the top of the content, there is a path of clickable links. This path, known as the Breadcrumb Trail, shows you where you are in the content. Any portion of the path is clickable and allows you to go back to that section of the hierarchy.

Need more help with Casemaker4? Support is available Monday-Friday from 8 am to 8 pm EST. You can call (877) 659-0801 or email Prefer to text chat? Click the Live Chat link in the upper right of the Casemaker system to connect to a member of the support team.

Search Operators in Casemaker

Casemaker has a number of search functions that allow you to create complex searches to locate the information you are looking form. Let's have a quick review of them!

AND searching—Example: Contract Binding
To perform the AND search, simply leave a space. Casemaker sees the space as the AND operator. Our example will give us documents that have the word contract as well as the word binding.

OR searching—Example: alimony OR support
Using OR as the operator will find documents that use either word in the query. In our example, this query will pull up documents mentioning either alimony or support anywhere in them.

NOT searching—Example: property NOT commercial
Using the NOT operator will tell the system to find the documents that mention the first term but do not mention the second. In our example, the query will pull up documents that refer to property but do not mention the term commercial

Grouping searching—Example: (alimony OR support) AND divorce
This would be the one case where you should use the word AND in Casemaker. Using the parentheses tells the system we want to group these queries. In this example, the system will return documents that mention alimony or support but also mention divorce.

Phrase searching—Example: "right of way"
This search type tells the system to treat everything in the quotations as if it were one search term. In our example, this means it will only pull cases that mention right of way but not cases that mention the words right, of and way by themselves.

Thesaurus searching—Example: ~parole
The thesaurus search not only locates your search term but also words with the same meaning. In our example query, the search will pull up documents that mention the word parole as well documents that mention any synonyms of the word parole.

Suffix searching—Example: run*
This search will pull up documents that mention terms that begin with the letters prior to the asterisk. In our example, the query will find documents that mention not only run, but also any words that start with run such as runner, runs, running and so on.

Proximity searching—Example: tax w/10 property
This search will pull up documents that mention your first term within the number of words you specify of the other term. In our example, this will bring us documents where tax is mentioned within ten words of the term property.

Learn About Subsequent Treatment of Cases

There are two ways to see if a case has been treated negatively by subsequent cases in Casemaker. The first way is a feature called Citing References. Citing References provides a list of every case in Casemaker that has cited the original opinion and is available in the gray navigation bar displayed while viewing a case. You would need to review each of these cases to see if any case treated the original case negatively or not.

The second way is CaseCheck+. CaseCheck+ takes the Citing References feature one step further and will automatically indicate if any subsequent cases have negatively treated the original case and what the treatment is. A green thumbs up symbol indicates there is no subsequent negative treatment and a red thumbs down symbol indicates there is negative treatment in subsequent cases.

Downloading Documents

Of course, you can access Casemaker from anywhere in the world with internet access—but sometimes you may find you need to download a copy of a case. Casemaker allows you to do just that.

While reading a case in Casemaker you will notice a set of icons on the far right in the gray toolbar area—a printer, an envelope, a folder and a floppy disk. Click on the floppy disk icon. After you click on the floppy disk icon you will see a pop up offering you a number of options. You can select various formats for the document such as word or PDF and how many columns per a page. You can also attach any notes you have made and including treatment, citing references and highlighting. Once you have selected the options you want—just click download. The document will save on your computer or laptop. Now you can access the case—no internet required.

Emailing Documents

Have you ever viewed a document in Casemaker and wanted to email it to your client or colleague? You can do that! To email a document, click on the envelope icon in the upper right-hand corner of the document in the dark gray bar. A pop-up window will appear, then select the document format (PDF, Word, or WordPerfect). Choose dual or single column format, and decide if you want to include your notes, any highlighted terms, or if you want to attach the list of citing references and any negative treatment found. Next, enter the recipient's email address (or addresses), a subject for the email, and a short message. Finally, hit the blue email button and Casemaker will email the document for you.

Make a Note of it!

You can add notes to any document you find in Casemaker. The note is unique to your account and cannot be seen by anyone else. To do so, view a document, click the “Notes” drop-down in the light gray bar, select “Add Note,” type your note in the new window that opens, then click save. Your note will be stored at the top of the document. You can use the same notes menu to determine if notes are visible or hidden. To edit the note, click the pencil icon and to delete it permanently click the “x” icon.

Statutes & Administrative Code by Citation

Below the search bar, you will find small buttons labeled Keyword, Citation, Party, Section, and Docket. If you click on the button for Section, you can then enter the citation for statutes or administrative codes and Casemaker will pull up the code section you are seeking. You can also browse administrative codes, statutes, and other materials by clicking the appropriate link under the state or federal library of your choosing.