Home Ch: 6 - Computer Concepts and Legal Applications Computer Concepts and Legal Applications Full Text Search & Retrieval & Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
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Chapter 6 - Computer Concepts and Legal Applications

Full Text Search & Retrieval & Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

Full text search and retrieval systems enable one to search for any word in a "full text" format stored on a computer disk and then go to that exact location. For example, if a lawyer were searching for the term “fired” in a deposition, the software would immediately find the term every time it was used in the document. You can then view the word in each part of the deposition where the word is found. See also Chapter 7, Deposition and Trial Testimony.

The next screen is an example of using full text to search for the word “bronco."

A substantial amount of the factual and legal information that is important in a case is in a “full text” format.

Generally, a document is in a full text format if it is in an ASCII format. ASCII is a format that most computer programs recognize for transferring data between programs. Essentially any document produced in a word processor is in a “full text” or ASCII format. Once in an ASCII format, it can be imported and searched in a full text program. The most noteworthy example is the deposition of a witness. Other examples of full text documents include trial transcripts, witness interviews, expert reports, e-mail and interrogatories, federal and state Rules of Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, Evidence and Appellate Procedure. Text Box:

There are many full text search engines. For example, if a brief is typed into your computer the “full text” search feature of your word processing program can search and locate any word in that brief. In Windows™, Microsoft has incorporated a full text search engine labeled FIND to search for words on your hard drive and locate the computer files where the words are located. Summation™ includes a legal specific full text search engine.

All full text programs are not created equal. There are many different modules and intelligent search features that are not included in all full texts search and retrieval programs. For example, full text search modules in word processing programs are not tailored for the legal industry. They do not maintain the integrity of the page and line number in deposition programs and do not transfer the page and line numbers. If you want to clip and attach significant testimony concerning jurisdiction for a motion for summary judgment, it is mandatory that the deposition title, volume, page and line number be retained for your attached exhibit. Some full text programs retain this information while others, like word processing programs, do not retain this information when the testimony is printed.


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