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JB was correct in noting that you must now be careful to see whether you are citing an unpublished opinion (since so many of them pop up doing a word search). Sometimes that is not so easy to tell from Lexis, at least. But, I note that even the courts have taken to freely citing unpublished opinions.
I am writing this post to alert everyone that Lexis is now finally (since August) choosing to include unpublished opinions of the CCA in its database. One must keep in mind that these opinions should not be cited, as Rule 77.3 is quite different from 47.7. Which, of course, raises the issue as to why Lexis is choosing to include them in the database. But, many of those opinions are still quite interesting and may serve to help in research.
This string brings to mind a question I have struggled with for a while. Has anyone figured out a way to craft a search in Lexis or Westlaw that only will return Published opinions? If there is a button that will restrict the search that way, I haven't found it, and I would like to be able to narrow my searches at times to exclude the DNP opinions.
If you are searching using "Terms and Connectors," use the BUT NOT connector followed by "Do Not Publish". This will exclude all cases which contain that phrase, leaving only puiblished opinions.
If you use "Natural Language" searches, then under the "Dates:" restriction drop down, you should have a link for "Require/Exclude Terms." Click that, then enter "Do Not Publish" in the exclusion field. Same effect.
The risk you run here is only if you have published opinion which contains the phrase "Do Not Publish" somewhere in the body, because those opinions will be excluded also. I don't know of any other way to limit your search to published opinions only (although honestly, I'm not sure why you would. In Westlaw you can eassily see whether the case is published or not in the results list by whether it has a reporter site or not. And the unpublished opinions often have some good synthesis of the caselaw to bootstrap from.)
Thank you for the idea. I use Lexis, but I will try it. I bet it will work. I almost never use the but not connector.
I do like being able to see the unpublished cases most of the time, but sometimes I just want to see the published ones - there are times when you just need a published case. I agree too that sometimes the unpublished cases are very helpful in locating published controling caselaw. But it would be helpful - as long as the courts are going to make distinctions - for the on-line legal research companies to provide a feature allowing searches to be limited to only published opinions.
I think in Lexis you can use the % as a "but not" connector. I've spent the last year on Westlaw, so I'm not sure anymore . . . I like to use unpublished cases as "see also" after using published authorities.
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