Skip to Main Content

SED 502 - Legal & Policy Issues Affecting Special Ed Program Administrators

Designed to assist students in SED 502 with legal research

Searching for Cases

To find cases, we recommend the following databases:

To search for cases in Westlaw, you can enter keywords or citations, or browse. In Nexis Uni, you'll see the option to limit your search to cases.

Let's take a closer look at Westlaw. When searching with keywords, use quotations to search a phrase-- for example, searching special education will return different results than "special education."  By default, you'll search against all federal jurisdictions. To change this, click the hyperlink labeled "All Federal":

Westlaw screenshot with jurisdiction option highlighted

This will return the following options. If you're looking primarily for cases in Illinois, select Illinois and the 7th Circuit.

Westlaw screenshot with Jurisdiction option limited to Illinois and the federal seventh circuit

Once you run a search, you can limit your results to cases in the left-side column.

Westlaw screenshot with cases option highlighted in navigational column

Once you do that, you'll see additional options for filtering cases-- such as topic, judge, and attorney.

Westlaw screenshot with the facets pane highlighted

Alternatively, to browse for cases, go to the Home page and navigate to Tools. Select "West Key Number System." This will allow you to browse to cases related to special education.

Westlaw screenshot of West Key Number System

Key Number 141E is about Education

Course Case Information in Westlaw

Once you identify a case you're interested in, you'll see the sections listed below.

Westlaw screenshot of a case

Note: Click to enlarge.

  • In the header: Case name, court, date, court citations, KeyCite flag (if applicable), case length
  • History: shows initial and subsequent appellate courts ( if applicable)
  • Citing References: court cases and secondary law sources that cite case
  • Table of Authorities: listing of the cases relied upon as authority by the document you are viewing
  • Synopsis: provides background and holdings of case
  • West Headnotes: legal topics that are covered in case – provides access to other court cases and legal materials on topic
  • Related Topics: provides access to topic overview and relevant statutes, briefs, secondary sources, cases, etc.

Law Librarian

Profile Photo
Chad Kahl
he / him / his
Office: Milner 419
(309) 438-3454
Subjects: Law, Legal Studies

Special Education Librarian

Profile Photo
Tom Hardy
Office: 617A