A time-saving Google tool that few lawyers know about

Have you ever wanted to find only favorable cases involving money?

For instance, have you been in a case in which attorney fees are to be awarded? If you are a plaintiff and are to be awarded attorney fees, you will probably want to find those cases that award high hourly rates. If you are the defendant who will have to pay the fees, you will want to find cases with low hourly rates.

You can’t, as far as I know, with the normal online legal research tools, find the high or low fees you are looking for without reading all the fee cases. Not in Lexis, not in Westlaw, not even in Fastcase. But you can sort of narrow the field using Google Scholar. Google has a search term called “range.” That term is implemented by putting the high and the low amount separated by two dots — with no spaces. Google describes it this way:

Search for a number range: Separate numbers by two periods without spaces (..) to see results that contain numbers in a given range of things like dates, prices, and measurements.camera $50..$100.

Let’s say you want to find a refrigerator and are willing to pay between $150 and $250 for it.
You can search Google Scholar for      refrigerator $150..$250. You may get some false hits because the syntax is not perfect. But, in the main, you will be able to zero in on what you want.
Now how does this affect lawyers? In the attorney fee situation, if you are the plaintiff’s attorney you may want to search only for fees that exceed $200 per hour. You might then search for “attorney fee” OR “attorney fees” “per hour” $201..$500 . You will get some cases that don’t seem correct, but this will probably be quicker than just doing the search without the range search.

Of course, if you are the paying party, you may want to see only the low hourly rate cases. So your search might be “attorney fee” OR “attorney fees” “per hour” $50..$150 . Another example would involve a land case in which you might be looking either for high or low per acre prices. The high and low searches might be “per acre” $150..$1000 or “per acre” $50..$150.
How do you find all of this in Google?

1. Type in the address bar scholar.google.com

2. Click on Case law and then on the applicable courts: Federal courts, Louisiana courts, or Select courts.

3. Put in your search

And all of this is free.

Moreover, Google has all sorts of information in Scholar. It has sort of a Shepard’s by its showing which later cases have cited earlier cases. (When you pull up a case, click on “Cited cases.” It won’t show whether the case was affirmed or reversed or whatever. You will have to read the later citing cases for that. But what do you expect for free?)

There is more Google Scholar information, although it relates directly to published articles and not  to reported cases. And, of course, there is an extensive Wikipedia article about Google Scholar.

There are even more Google goodies, but that will be for another day. )

A more precise search could be developed using some additional Google search tools, but that too will have to wait for another day.

A.J. Levy

P.S. Please post any uses that you have found for the range option.

A.J. Levy
504-214-6947
ajlevy@compuserve.com
(C) Adolph J. Levy

A suggested blog: A blog that reports cases that hold laws or rules unconstitutional or invalid for some other reason

This is an out-of-the-box suggestion for a new blog, one that I think will interest many readers, and it’is free for the taking.

By way of background, one way of coming up with solutions in your practice is to have many ways to jog your thought processes.

Assume you have a case that involves a statute (state or federal) or a regulation (state or federal) or a court rule ‘o or indeed any rule (state or federal), and the statute, regulation or rule is barring you or your client from achieving the relief you would like. One defense to the bar that you might consider is whether that bar is invalid. For instance:

1. If the bar is a statute, is it unconstitutional under either the federal or the state constitution;

2. If it is a regulation, is it invalid because it did not comply with rule-making requirements or because it violates a federal or state statute or constitution;

3. If it is a district or appellate court rule, similarly, does it violate a federal or state constitution, statute or even a uniform rule of the court;

4. If it is a city ordinance, does it violate a constitution or a statute.

This validity-checking technique would apply to various types of litigation, and could be helpful to all who are trying to defeat some bar. It could be helpful to plaintiffs and defendants, and to corporations where they are being charged with violating a statute of a regulation. It would also be helpful to civil rights or other groups where they or their clients are being barred from some type of activity. The list could go on and on. Continue reading

An out-of-the-box way to find someone’s hidden bank accounts

Do you remember that Sherlock Holmes solved a crime because of a dog that didn’t bark?

Well, in one case reported by CaseMap, an investigator entered all of a husband’s checks into CaseMap’s case preparatiion program. Here’s how, in that out-of-the-box way, the payments that didn’t show up led to the investigator’is discovery of the husband’is hidden bank account:

[Bill Branscum, the owner of an investigative agency based in Naples, Florida] recalls how . . . he investigated a subject’s finances after the individual in question had supposedly turned all of his financial records over to the court. CaseMap allowed Branscum to quickly pull out all of the man’is alimony payments, which enabled Branscum to detect something odd: Some monthly payments were just missing, and not made up later. On a hunch, Branscum used CaseMap to pull up the man’is car payments, and he found the same pattern: some payments simply were not made. Branscum’is conclusion: the man had a hidden bank account from which he occasionally paid his alimony and his car loan. The hunch was right and the missing finances were revealed.

Of course, some of the same results can be accomplished with spreadsheet programs.  However, CaseMap might allow you to use its bells and whistles and its related programs like TimeMap that ordinary spreadsheets won’t have.

Metadata in photos: There’is a lot of hidden information in digital photos

You’ive probably learned about all the metadata that can be found in word processing files. The metadata may show when a document was created, what editing changes were made, and all sorts of other potentially valuable information.

I recently learned that there is also some extremely valuable information hidden away in the digital version of digital photographs. And Microsoft has a free –  that’s free – program that allows you to discover from the digital version such information as the date and time when the photo was taken.

You may also be able to discover additional information with Photo Info, although not all of the information may be available for all photos. The additional information may include:

The camera model: If different photos were taken with different cameras, was there more than one photographer?The serial number of the camera: Again, was there more than one photographer?Technical information, such as F-stop, exposure time, ISO speed, and focal length: Did the photographer alter the way the scene really looked by adjusting the settings?

The “author”of the photograph

 

You need to be wary, however, because the metadata may have been changed before you see the photograph. For instance, someone could change the date and/or time when the photo was taken. However, knowledge regarding photo metadata is less well-known than word processing metadata, so photo metadata is less likely to be deleted or changed than the word processing metadata.

In addition to being able to see the metadata, you can, on your own photos, for instance, change your metadata or add metadata such as keywords to help find your own photos more quickly.

Microsoft has a general description of the program here; it has frequently asked questions here and you can download the program here. (You may already have other programs that show certain photo information. I have two, but, unlike Microsoft’s program, neither of them show the camera model, the camera serial number, or the “author” of the photograph.)

There is a technical description of Microsoft’s program at the site of one of our local TV companies. You will have to search on “metadata” to find it. The page where the description and other computer tips are included is named “Digital Gumbo.” (Only in Louisiana could there be a website with a combination of “digital” and “gumbo.”)

NOTE: I would appreciate learning of ways that lawyers and support personnel have used metadata in photos. I’m not allowing comments to be posted ecause of severe comment spam problems. However, you can send me your thoughts at the following email adress:

Type “noboxes” before the @ sign and type “cox.net” after the @ sign. (Do not include the quotation marks.)

Thanks for your thoughts.

Today’s Wall Street Journal – June 18 – has a great 12-page section on “All Things Digital”

Thes Monday June 18 issue of the Wall Street Journal has a tremendously informative section regarding computers and other digital information.

Particularly pertinent for attorneys are articles entitled:

“Business Solutions: Making Sense of Social Software”

“Social Studies: Companies of all kinds are figuring out which tools work and how to use them” — The article includes information on topics such as social networking, RSS, wikis and blogs and a discussion of how corporations are using them” (This article may be seen at not cost on the Journal’s site.)

“Playing Well With Others: How IBM’s employees have taken social networking to an unusual level” — The article even includes a discussion of how IBM has islands on Second Life for its employees”

“Wikis at Work: Companies turn the Wikipedia concept into a powerful corporate-information tool for employees””

There are also interviews with Steve Jobs, George Lucas, and other magnates.

If you’re interested in any of this and don’t subscribe online, you need to get the paper today while the issue is still available.

How to automatically update “See page ____” cross-references in your briefs and memos

Continuing readers of legal blogs such as this one probably know how to create cross-references in their briefs and memos. With that knowledge, they don’t have to manually update their cross-references when they add or delete pages in their briefs and memos, thus changing the cross-referenced pages. Therefore, for most of you, the following is a time-saving posting for you to share with your fellow attorneys and their secretaries:

How many times have you written a brief and you’re on page 10 and you want to refer to something above that’s on page 5. So, you write “See page 5, supra.” But later you put some new material before page 5, and page 5 becomes page 7. Now your reference is no longer accurate. Then, unless you forget, you manually change 5 to 7. However, that can be tedious if you have four or five or more cross-references. And, even if you only have one, you might forget to make the change.

There’s a way in both WordPerfect and Microsoft Word to make your life easier. It’s called “cross-referencing.” It’s a little complicated at first, but once you or your secretary learn the technique, it’s easy.

Essentially, for instance in WordPerfect 8 (other versions of WordPerfect may be somewhat different), click consecutively on Tools, then Reference, and then Cross-Reference. Reference Type is almost always “Page.” Give the reference a name in the “Select Target” box (for instance “negligence”), and press “Mark Reference” ~n and that’s now the “reference.” Then, go to the location you are referring to, such as page 5, and press “Mark Target” using the identical name you used when you named the reference. You now have marked both the Target and the Reference. Now, you can press “Generate” and, shazam, the “See p. ___” on page 10 now refers to page 5. If you add pages in front of page 5 and page 5 becomes page 8 (or becomes page 4 because you deleted material), all you need to do is “re-generate” the reference (Tools, Reference, Cross-Reference, and Generate), and page 10 now refers to page 8 ~n or page 4 ~n or whatever.

For instructions in WordPerfect itself on how to do the cross-referencing, you can go to “Help” in the toolbar at the top of the page, then click on “Ask the Perfect Expert,” then enter “cross-reference” (without the quotes), and follow the instructions. (Again, there may be variations in finding the instructions, depending on which version of WordPerfect you are using.)

Smart Computing magazine, which has very practical articles “In Plain English,” as it says, has an article on WordPerfect version 6.1′s cross-references at www.smartcomputing.com/support/links.asp?id=892and one on cross-referencing on WordPerfect’s version 10 at www.smartcomputing.com/support/links.asp?id=890. Again, although your version of WordPerfect may be different, the techniques and the principles of marking and generating will probably be similar. (The links to these articles will be open only until April 5, 2007. You can also search Smart Computing for these and other computer articles with a free Smart Computing trial subscription.)

Microsoft Word also permits cross-referencing, although the technique is different. There is a detailed article on Word 2003-2004 at www.uwec.edu/help/word03/AUTO-pageref.htm (No time limit is imposed for that article.)

3/5/2007

The same technique can be used if you want to cross reference to footnote numbers and counters that you create. Instead of selecting page in Cross Reference, just select Footnote number (or counter or “Paragraph/Outline”).

In addition, you can automatically increment Exhibit numbers so that you can move the exhibits around or delete or add exhibits and have the numbers automatically change to the correct new number. To learn about that tool, in WordPerfect 8 (other programs and versions may be slightly different), go to Help and, in the Index tab, type list, numbered. You’ll see detailed instruction on how to use the time-saving technique.

Finding evacuee doctors

If you’re trying to find a new contact for a Louisiana evacuee doctor, try searching the website for the hospital where the doctor is on staff. Here, for example, is the Touro Infirmary link for Touro doctors: http://208.15.228.177/Physicians/FindaPhysician/tabid/72/Default.aspx

In addition, you can try the Louisiana Hospital Association site that the Louisiana State Medical Society links to : http://www.lhaonline.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=259.

If that doesn’t work, you can try telephoning the Hospital Association at 225-928-0026 or the Medical Society at 800-375-9508 and 225-763-8500.

Suggestions for documenting Katrina losses

I received the following suggestions for documenting Katrina-related losses. The suggestions came from a professional photographer/videographer and were also posted on www.nola.com:

`iBasically, you need to have very clear photos and video. You need to show the up close damage details, and the wide view to put it all in context. You can’t take too many photos. You can’t take too much video. Insurance reps I’ve spoken to are telling me that video will greatly enhance any photos you take. Be super cautious about angles, lighting, etc. If an agent can say, “I don’t see what you’re describing in that photo,” you could be screwed. Watch for your angles, backgrounds, lighting, focus, etc. Think really good about each shot. You want to relate the big picture AND the small details about the whole property to someone who has no idea. Imagine your audience has never seen western style buildings and you need to relate the damage to them with only the photos and video.

Continue reading

Katrina – How to find lawyers who had to leave their offices

Katrina has forced many Louisiana lawyers from their offices. If you’re a lawyer or a client looking for them, there are two sites that may have their new information. But the lawyers must have registered their new addresses and telephone numbers.

The Louisiana State Bar Association has one of the sites. www.lsba.org/home1/ The site also has Katrina-related information for attorneys as well as non-attorneys.

Attorneys can also give their new addresses and phone numbers to the State Bar Disciplinary Committee at http://www.ladb.org. The committee’s site is searchable by the public.

Additionally, clients who are looking for their attorneys may post their own locations and, when their attorneys give a new address, the attorneys will be informed of the clients who have been looking for them.

Katrina-related legal info – A Katrina manual for attorneys and other information

The Louisiana State Bar Association site (www.lsba.org) has a variety of information for attorneys. Part of that information, which is open to the public, includes a training manual for attorneys:

Emergency Disaster Training Manual for Louisiana Lawyers. http://www.lsba.org/home1/trainingmanual.asp
“Use this manual to help persons affected by Hurricane Katrina
“This manual has important information about how lawyers can assist persons affected by Hurricane Katrina.”

Although it is for Louisiana attorneys, the manual may also be helpful for non-Louisiana lawyers since some of the information applies to issues that are not related to Louisiana law.

The site also has links to Florida, Texas and ABA sites that have Katrina-related information for non-Louisiana attorneys.

In addition, the site also includes information on how attorneys can get involved doing pro bono Katrina work.