Statutes can sometimes be tricky to find, especially if you do not have an exact citation. Fastcase has several ways you can access statutes, depending on how much information you know at the beginning of your search.
If you are not sure where to start and just want to browse through the various titles and chapters of a code there is an easy way to do that in Fastcase. Just go to the Fastcase toolbar, hover over the Search menu and click Search Statutes. Above the search bar on the Search Statutes page are two tabs. Select the second tab – Browse.
From here you will see a list of jurisdictions and the U.S. Code, which is located on the top. If you want to browse Nevada law, just scroll down to that state and click the plus sign to the left. If you click the plus sign next to Nevada Revised Statutes you can select which edition of the code to view (2014-2007). You can decide to expand various titles and chapters to your heart’s desire.
If you see something that interests you, just click the name of the section to read it. Fastcase will pull up any cases that cite your section below the statute’s text. You can also see an outline view of the code to the left. This lets you view your section in the overall context of the code and click on other sections to read further.
Find a Citation
The easiest way to find a particular statute section is to just type in a citation for that section using Fastcase’s Citation Lookup feature (more on that below), but what if you only have an act name? Or, maybe you have a general idea that a statute exists, but do not know where to look in browse mode. You can try a keyword search on the Search Statutes page, but predicting the exact language of a section is very difficult. You might try searching for a case that cited your statute on the Search Cases page, but that is also time consuming.
It is perfectly fine to turn to Google if you are struggling! In my experience this is a great way to find out where certain areas of the law have been codified when you do not have enough information to search the Fastcase databases effectively using keywords. And if you know how to search using Fastcase you know how to run a Google search since both use Boolean operators.
How to Directly Look-Up a Citation
Great! You found that pesky citation. Next you want to enter it into Fastcase and go directly to your statute section.
From the Search Statutes page, make sure the Citation Lookup mode is selected above the search bar. Select where you want to search in the Select Statutes pane by checking off the boxes. You can click the plus signs for each jurisdiction to show different codes. If you click the blue “info>>” link you can see examples of how to cite those particular laws so the computer can find them. For example, Nevada Revised Statutes are cited with the abbreviation “Nev. Rev. Stat. [Chapter Number].[Section Number].” Use that syntax with your citation in the search bar and press enter to quickly pull up a section.
Once you have the statute basics down you can save a lot of time and frustration. Time which could be better spent watching spring training, for instance.