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How To Do a 50-state Statute Comparison Online at Lexis.com

Can you do a full 50-state comparison research online without it costing an arm and a leg? Yes you can! It can be done in one search and without exceeding your Lexis.com (link will open in new window) contract in most cases, as long as you have a Full Federal package within your existing contract. What follows is an explanation of the "breadcrumb" trail to enter once you have designed your search term language to use.

WARNING: If at anytime during the use of this suggested method you encounter any dollar signs ($ $ $) that the search you are about to perform is outside of your current Lexis.com contract, STOP and consider whether you still want to proceed with your research!

You may or may not be compensated for the expense incurred. The current statewide guideline for computer research expenses as adopted by AIDOAC in 1999 is: Work performed after November 1, 1999, may include only the cost of research that "requires access to unique materials that are outside a basic fee plan (California and U.S. Supreme Court cases) and is supported by documentation." With the expense claimed, you will need to include the explanation of need, a copy of the billing, and identify the briefed issue. Note that these costs do not include regular monthly fees for on-line computer research service.

METHOD:
Here is the "breadcrumb trail" for getting to and accessing the state codes for all 50 states in one search (this search trail was updated 4/1/08):

  1. Click on the tab called "Research Tasks" and select "Criminal Law";
  2. At the next screen, click on the blue link called “View more Criminal Law Sources within the source hierarchy”;
  3. At the next screen, under “Find Statutes, Regulations & Administrative Materials,” click on the blue link called “By State Code”;
  4. The next screen gives you a selection screen.  You can mark checkboxes to select and compare certain states, or simply click the link to the first option in the list, “State Codes, Constitutions, Court Rules & ALS, All-Selected Criminal”.
    (Now you are in the database for searching the statutes of all 50 states at one time with one search. The user can also search the Statutes, Constitution, Court Rules and ALS for each of the 50 states individually here. More on this below.)
  5. At the next screen, enter your search in the query window here, OR click on the + sign that says "Restrict Search Using Document Segments";
  6. At the next screen, enter your search in the query window using the "text" segment (which means your search will be confined to looking only at the text of the codes, rather than looking at the headings, etc.).

Although the description of the database might lead one to believe that only criminal law related statutes are available in these databases, the database actually contains all of the statutes from all 50 states (criminal law related and non-criminal law related).

RESULTS:
Here's a sample 50-state comparison search using the above breadcrumb trial, using the Segment search window and entering the following search: text (evad! or flee! /5 officer*) [tip: leave a space before the opening parens]. This search resulted in 213 hits, covering 45 states and 9 of those 45 states did not yield good results and would need different wording in the search-term wording to try again. (A Lexis help line for composing an accurate search is available at 1-800-262-2391.)

To scan through the hit-list and hop efficiently from Document to Document hit the DOC tab arrows at the bottom after looking at the first Document in the list that comes up. Within a Document, you can still hop from Document to Document in the list by hitting the arrows at the top called "PREV" and "NEXT" to eliminate going back and forth to the found list.

After not yielding all 50-states and after refining the search terms used, an individual state search could be done for the remaining or missing states. Back at step 6, above, enter another segment to your search: state (Hawaii) and text (evad! or flee! /5 crim!)

Tip: substitute the state that you need for "Hawaii". Leave a space before the parenthesis. This segment search looks in the codes for just the individual state you have named and looks in the text of the code for the search terms you have designated.

 

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