Sunday, October 14, 2007

California Codes - California Law Finder

Library 102 is making me feel very humble. I have forgotten how to find things in print. What I have forgotten is matched up with what I don't know. There is a lot I don't know.

But I am coming along slowly so I want to share this tip should you find yourself needing to find information about a law in California. Special shout out to Raffi because I would have never found this without his help.

In Print:

When you are looking for laws you have to think in terms of keywords. In the library there is a master index, LARMAC Consolidated Index to the Constitution and Laws of California. This has the listing for all of the keywords that are associated with the law or code.
  1. Search for the keyword and the you will find the legal citation number.
  2. Write that number down.
  3. Locate a legal resource that has that section of the law. At PCC we have West California Code; however there are other books that cite California law as well.
  4. Find the book that has the citation range, look up the number and you have successfully located the law.
Online:

The state of California has a search engine, California Law, that helps you find the codes and laws of the state.
  1. Enter the keyword in the search box at the bottom of the screen. I'll use "Chicken".
  2. Select the code that best matches your search area or select all to show all of the relevant codes under the keyword. The database will show you a listing from the table of contents that matches your keyword search.
  3. Select the number of documents you want returned, the default setting is twenty.
  4. Click the search button.
  5. A listing will appear with the sections of code that are relevant to your keyword.
  6. Click the link and you will be taken to that section of the code. In this case it was the section from the Food and Agriculture codes. You now have to drill down to find the code or law that you are searching for; so if I am looking for the code that defines a specific class of Chicken meat and I am looking for Roasters then I am searching for section 25852(c) which will give me the code for what is considered at Roaster chicken in California.
Which Is Better?

Both have advantages and disadvantages. The print version you have a keyword but that may not be the word used by the code. There will be a cross reference to the correct word but you will be flipping pages. The good news is that you will be able to observe the legal context of your search area and may see a better keyword that matches what you are looking for.

The online method is initially faster but it will take you longer to drill down to the section of law or code. Instead of zooming in like you can in the print version you will have to visually drill down on the screen.

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