Legal Research on the Internet California Conference on Self-Represented Litigants April 28-30, 2010 San Francisco. Presented by: Kelly Browne Assistant Director for Public Services Sacramento County Public Law Library. California County Law Libraries. Open to the Public
Assistant Director for Public Services
Sacramento County Public Law Library
*If you need help, raise your hand and Coral Henning, SCPLL Director, will come and help you.
& Warm-Up Exercises
What’s the definition of QUANTUM MERUIT ?
Use one of the following:
Many sites use variations on these – check the site’s “Help” or “Search Tips” for specifics
Using AND narrows a search.
Each term will occur in each retrieved document.
Using OR broadens a search. One or both of the terms will occur in each retrieved document.
Using NOT limits a search.
Parenthesis are used to group words or ideas together.
For example, a search for:
(canine OR dog) AND bite
Is the same as running these two separate searches:
canine AND bite
dog AND bite
Select key TERMS from your issue.
Using three to five key terms works
well for most issues
host injury intoxicated guest
host intoxicated guest
Enter reasonable ALTERNATIVE terms for your key terms.
Be creative - terms that may seem to have limited relationships to key terms or that mean the opposite of a key term, may be reasonable alternatives:
Party or Corporation may be alternatives for host.
Sober may be an alternative for intoxicated.
Add appropriate CONNECTORS to specify the relationship you want each term and its alternatives to have to the other terms and their alternatives.
(Host* OR party) AND
(intoxicat* OR drunk OR alcohol)
What keywords would you try for this scenario?
Tom signed a one-year lease to rent an apartment from Laurie. Shortly after moving in, Tom discovered that the apartment was overrun by cockroaches, making living there intolerable. Tom wants to move out, but Laurie is threatening to sue if he breaks the lease.
California Courts – Powered by LexisNexis
Plug in known cite
Select search type
Segment: part or section of a case opinion.
Find the name of the case at this citation:
149 Cal.App.3d 409 (1983)
Use California Courts site:
How many reported cases can you find where Neoma Kenwood
was the attorney of record?
Find a case in which one of the parties was named Wilson
Hint: Search party names using the Name segment.
The case we’re interested in deals with a “spite fence.” Focus your search to find this case.
fence and neighbor
Can my neighbor build a 12-foot high fence next to my property just to annoy me?
Results don’t always match expectations – we must read several to find the one we want
Choose a code,
Enter your keyword(s)
OR leave it blank
Browsing the Table of Contents
Choose a code,
Leave it blank and
What crime is described in Penal Code § 417.25?
Locate a code section for a crime involving ducklings
Multiple ways to search
Common citation style:
3 CCR § 482
Search for Words
***Default is OR***
The search capabilities are the same as the word search, but your results will be limited to just the specific titles you select.
List of CCR Titles = Table of Contents
until you can
to this agency
The California Board of Corrections and Rehabilitation has a special diet for inmates with disciplinary problems when they are in isolation.
Using SEARCH, find the recipe for:
“Disciplinary Isolation Diet” in
the California Code of Regulations
Available in PDF or HTML
1. Load pdf version
2. Click on little binoculars
There is no advanced search. This merely highlights the terms you enter.
In the California Rules of Court,
what rule governs the
publication of appellate opinions ?
Hint: It is an appellate rule.
Secondary sources such as:
…are NOT available for free on the Internet
When selecting online sources, consider:
Arranged topically or alphabetically
Often includes advertisements
Commercial site, but many helpful articles available free
Look for articles by author or in a specific publication
To search only Legal journals, put HeinOnline in the Publication field
Limit your search by subject area
Limit to particular courts
List of articles that have cited this article
See all version of this article
Articles that Google determines are related
Purchase a copy of this article from the British Library
Searches the internet for websites related to the topic of this article
Limit your results
Find a 2009 Federal case that discusses
fraudulent loan modifications
There are also lists of blogs by category from:
Where you’ll find:
Judicial Council Forms
Forms can be listed by name, number or category
Pull down menu for
Judicial Council Forms
Adobe pdf format:Choose fillableor non-fillable
CA Agency Information
Link goes to website or other info
Envelope links directly to contact info
You have recently purchased an antique boat. California law allows the DMV to provide special plaques which identify qualifying boats as a vessel of historical interest.
Find an “Application for Historical Vessel Plaque” form on the DMV’s website.