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document bank search tips

  1. How do I perform a Search?
    1. Quick Keyword Search
    2. Advanced Search
    3. The Category/ Sub Category Topics
    4. Viewing the Search Result
  2. How do I view or download a brief?

  3. How old are the briefs & who contributes?

  4. How old are the victories?

  5. How old are the published opinion entries and why should I search here instead of a paid subscription legal service?
  1. How do I perform a Search?

    1. Quick Keyword Search:
      quick search

      Enter a word or exact phrase and click the Search button. When using phrases, it will look for the complete phrase entered; for example, "beyond a reasonable doubt" will yield different results than "beyond doubt". The default search will look at all document types (case summaries, victories and briefs) in all topical categories. The default search will look for any instance of your word (or phrase) in the text of the case summary, victory summary, or brief. It will also search for instances in the case name field and in the attorney name field.

      Do not use Boolean or wildcard search terms such as an asterisk at the end of a word [prison*], "w/n 5 words," "AND," "AND/NOT," etc.

      Since the Keyword Search feature looks for an exact phrase, use simple, natural language and terms of art -- words that you would expect to see together in a case summary or in the text of a brief. Examples:
      1. prosecutor misconduct = use: prosecutorial misconduct
      2. writ of habeas corpus = use: habeas corpus
      3. Code sections = just type in the code number, such as: 646.9
      4. CALJIC number = just type in the CALJIC number, such as: 136.1
      5. Case name = just type one of the party's names, such as: Wheeler

        If you want to perform a specific search by topic categories, select the Advanced Search option.
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    2. Advanced Search
      Selecting the Advanced Search option will provide you with two sets of search options

      advanced search

      The Category and Sub Category search option will perform a search by topic – you can add as many Categories and Sub Categories as you want. Choose your Category first by clicking on it; for example, "Misconduct". If you click on, "Add to List" button at this point, your search will look in the entire topic of Misconduct. Or you can choose for it to search in Sub Categories by either looking in "All Sub Categories", or selected Sub Categories, for example, "By Prosecutor". Click on the Sub Category you want and then click on, "Add to List". If you want to add more Sub Categories click and Add those, too. When you've selected all the topics you want, click the Search button.

      other options

      Other Options include searching the attorney name field (victories and brief authors), searching by date or a range of dates (you can use the calendar icon by clicking on it and then choosing dates), or searching for items entered in the last several days or weeks.

      Any advanced search will look at all document types (case summaries, victories and briefs). Choosing broader Categories or multiple Sub Categories will yield broader results. Choosing a narrow Sub Category will yield a narrow search result.

      search options

      Clicking on the Modify Your Search button will keep the last search criteria you entered and allow you to make additions or changes. Clicking on the Start New Search button is a reset button that will erase all previously entered criteria and return you to the empty default search options page. If you accidentally hit this button, click on your browser back button to go back one screen.

      Any empty search fields in an Advanced Search will be ignored.

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    3. The Category/ Sub Category Topics
      The Categories are main topic classifications in alphabetical order. They are drawn from the broad topics of the original CCAP codes which were in use for case summaries and briefbank materials for many years. The Sub Categories within each Category are similarly drawn from the subtopics for the old codes. For example, "Misconduct" (old topic # 7) has Sub Categories of "By Judge" (old topic #7.A.), "By Prosecutor" (7.B.), "By Jurors" (7.C.), and by "Defense Counsel" (7.D.).

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    4. Viewing the Search Result
      viewing the search resultSearch results are compiled from all three document types (case summaries, victories and briefs) by searching for each of the words or exact phrases. The results page will list the number of Published Opinions, Panel Victories, and Brief Bank Resources found, in that order.

      If nothing is found for the document type, a zero will appear; for example, if no Victories are found for a search for "Misconduct" (Category), "By Juror" (Sub Category), then the results will read, "There are 0 Panel Victories".

      If the search results contain more than 5 documents for the document type, the results are shown for the first 5 entries, but it will display how many documents were found, "There are 20 Published Opinion matches," and you are given the option to select Show All.

      By default, the search results are sorted by the most recent date. Summaries of Published Opinions and Panel Victories are dated by opinion date. Brief Bank Resources are dated by database entry date.

      To view a document found in the results, click on the blue underlined link (it's name). If there is a related Brief Bank Resource for the item in any document type (case summaries, victories and briefs), an icon stack of red books will appear next to the document. Click on the icon to "Get the Brief"; it will open and display in HTML in a second browser page on your screen.

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  2. How do I view or download a brief?
    After doing a search, there are several options for viewing or downloading a brief found in the results list.
    • The stack of books icon located next to an entry in any document category (case summaries, victories and briefs) means that there is an associated brief that can be viewed with that entry. Click on the Books to simply view it in a separate browser screen that will open up.

    • Or, click on the individual case name entry that appears with a red stack of books located next to it, and the description of that entry will appear on your browser screen. To read the full entry, click on the Word Processor/Print Friendly icon at the top of the description:

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  3. How old are the briefs & who contributes?
    CCAP hosts the only integrated document bank for Case Summaries, Victories and Briefs. Contributions are selected for their superior quality of research, argument, structure and/or recurring desirability/usefulness. Some samples may be old because they are timeless; others may be recent because they are hot issues of the day. The briefbank is pruned for currency. You can help us maintain the quality and usefulness of the briefbank by informing us of any outdated arguments that you see.

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  4. How old are the victories?
    Victories for the Searchlight date back to January 2001. The older entries may not show the appellate case name, stating only "People v. Appellant" or "People v. Anonymous," thus searching for older Victories by case name may yield zero results. Recent feedback from both panel and staff attorneys indicates that Victories, even older ones, can be useful in issue spotting the odd-ball case. Contributing courts for victories at this time are: Third, Fifth & Sixth Districts.

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  5. How old are the published opinion entries and why should I search here instead of a paid subscription legal service?
    The case summaries collected weekly in the Published Opinions portion of the Searchlight Document Database are from the CCAP case summaries dating back to the year 2000. Although CCAP has produced summaries since 1987, the process of putting them into the online database system is an arduous task better left to a paid subscription legal service. Our present commitment for the database is to keep the case summaries current and to link related briefing whenever possible so that Published Opinions, Victories, and Briefbank resources can be connected together in either 1, 2 or even all 3 categories! No other online legal service provides this relationship.

 

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