Tag Archives: case law

How to Research Early Colorado Case Law

Here is a tip for how to research early Colorado case law.  All that is needed is: 1. internet access; and 2. a Google account.  While it is not necessary, The Bluebook – A Uniform System of Citation can be very helpful in determining which print reporters to search.

Since I have graduated law school, there have been a few times where I have read cases and there are citations to cases from the 19th and even 18th centuries.  My problem is I was not able to access these cases to read because I could not find them anywhere.  I do not use Lexis or Westlaw (and even when I did, those databases sometimes had omissions for early case law).  A simple search into the major search engines did not return the text of the decision either.  State supreme court cases are generally only available on the internet (sites without a paywall) from the 1950s and on.

When presented with this situation I turned my search to Google Books.  Google works with several of the largest libraries in the world (including many of the top law libraries) to digitize books that are in the public domain.  My idea was to search through case law reporters that are now in the public domain and digitized by Google.  Because with any luck, I would be able to find the case published in the reporter.

I will walk through this tutorial with the example case Salomon v. Webster, 4 Colo. 353 (1878).   This court case is heard by the Colorado Supreme Court only two years after Colorado is granted statehood to the union.  This is going pretty far back.

19th Century Colorado Case Law
Citation to 19th Century Colorado Case Law

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