Google Scholar is a free resource for case law. If all you want to do is pull up a case with a known citation, it works pretty well. Except when it doesn’t.
Sometimes Google Scholar Doesn’t Work As Expected
Here’s an example. Try searching for the drag-racing case State v. Fair, 209 S.C. 439, 40 S.E.2d 634 (1946) on Google Scholar (https://scholar.google.com/).
Maybe the error will be fixed at some point. But as of August 3, 2023, your law librarians have tried searching by caption, by the South Carolina Reports citation, and by the South Eastern Reporter citation, and Google Scholar provides cases that cite to State v. Fair, but not the full text of the case itself.
Fastcase to the Rescue!
Thank goodness Fastcase is included in SC Bar memberships (https://www.scbar.org/lawyers/fastcase-legal-research/), and the USC Law community has access to Fastcase as well (law.sc.edu/library > For USC Law Students > Fastcase).
State v. Fair is easily found on Fastcase. Using the share icon at the top right, a public link can be generated to the full text of the case. (https://public.fastcase.com/waZtJvSA54UAurM2rmIZz%2B8TgA3yXob1eUzqLbgVoIcAwlUpJd9xWx3TEU1wZTghyaLlww3f1rljvYGUNEzDnA%3D%3D)
This is one of many reasons that Fastcase is worthwhile legal research technology.
ChatGPT Can’t Retrieve Case Law
Here is ChatGPT’s response when asked for the full text of State v. Fair:
I apologize for the inconvenience, but as an AI language model, I don’t have direct access to external sources such as specific legal cases or their full texts. My training data only goes up until September 2021, and I don’t have browsing capabilities to retrieve real-time information.
To access the full text of State v. Fair, 209 S.C. 439, 40 S.E.2d 634 (1946), you can try searching for it through legal databases, law libraries, or online resources that provide access to court cases and legal opinions. Many legal databases require a subscription or access through an institution such as a law school or a legal library.
You can also reach out to a legal professional or a law librarian who may be able to help you locate and access the specific case you’re interested in. They can guide you on the proper channels to obtain the full text and any associated legal analysis or commentary.
No one is surprised that ChatGPT couldn’t provide the full text of a case, but who knew ChatGPT was smart enough to recommend law library usage?