By: Todd Spodek, Esq.: Google has recently launched Google Scholar, which is an amazing free resource for both lawyers and non-lawyers to research the law. Everyone can now read the full legal opinions of U.S. State, Federal and Appellate cases.
These cases can be searched by the case name, or topic. Further, one can now easily see how a legal opinion has influenced other Judges by reviewing the citing page, and related cases page.
For example if you wanted to read the famous NY Court of Appeals Case People v. Huntley which allows a defendant to challenge the voluntariness and lawful nature of any statement made to the police you could easily do that.
This is an important case to know about because if a defendant requests a Huntley hearing, and is successful at the hearing, any incriminating statements made will be precluded from trial. The hearing Judge will consider the following factors to determine if the statements were voluntary:
* Whether the defendant was in custody at the time of the statement. If so, whether the defendant waives hid Miranda rights.
* Whether the police used unfair coercion or violence
* Whether the police made promises to the defendant
* Whether the defendant mad ethe statement on his own free will
* Whether the statements were obtained as a result of an illegal arrest
The Judge must find that voluntariness beyond a reasonable doubt before the confession can be submitted to the trial jury.
Here’s how to use Google Scholar:
1. Start at Google Scholar
2. Click Google Advanced Scholar Search on the right side of the search box
3. Type Huntley into the “with all of the words” search box
4. Scroll down to Legal Opinions and Journals, Search only Court opinions from the following states, and check New York
5. Click Search Scholar
6. Once you pull up the case, if you click on the “How Cited” link you can see 1) How this document has been cited and 2) Related documents.