Help Searching the Attorney General Reports

Basic Searching

The New Jersey Digital Legal Library provides two different forms to use to conduct full-text searches of the Attorney General Opinions, the Basic and Advanced search forms. The Basic search form allows you to specify a boolean or keyword query and recieve results in ranked by their the document's relvancy to your query.

The Advanced search form allows you to limit boolean and keyword queries to specific parts of the documents in the collection. The advanced form also allows you choose how your query results are ordered after your query is executed. Go directly to the section dicussing the advanced help features if you are interested in utilizing this form.

Keyword Search

The most basic search is the Keyword search. The basic search box appears in the following image:

Basic Attorney General Search Image

If you type the following phrase:

wetlands protection

in the basic search box you will should see these results in your web browser.

The search engine will return all documents containg the both the words "environmental" and "protection" in any location. On the results page you'll see that a search report for your query that similar to the next image:

Attorney General Search Report

See the upcoming sections for tips on how to use boolean operators and how to search for particular phrases.

Interpreting Search Results

After a query is executed. Your results will be presented in list form. Each matching document will list the Opinion Number, the Governor, the date of the order in which the case was decided, the citation for the order [if available], KWIC output showing the context in which the search terms appeared within the text of the document, a brief description of the subject of the order [if available], and a brief description of the current status of the case [if available], and the different options you have for viewing that particular document. Some orders are available only in HTML, others are available in DjVu and Adobe PDF.

Each matching document will have entry similar to the the following image:

Attorney General Single Search Results Example

A link to each available document type appears next to the View Opinion In heading on each matching document's listing. The case title also is a hyperlink that leads to the case in DjVu format. Also displayed with each matching case is the Synopsis of the case as it appears in and a section of KWIC (keyword in context) output. KWIC output shows you your keywords and the text that surrounds them in the document.

Note on OCR Text

The full-text search, with the exceptions of those orders available in HTML format only, currently runs on uncorrected OCR (Optical Character Recognition Output) output that is automatically generated by a computer program that tries to guess what the words that appear in the document are. While this process makes older collections search-able and accessible on the net it does sometimes result in text that is nonsensical or unreadable. The KWIC output is generated from the OCR output. The orders prepared in HTML and the searchable fields [discussed fully in section 8], order title, order subject, and order status are not subject to OCR errors.If you have confusion about the contents of these representations of the document please refer to the available DjVu file as the canonical source document for the order. The DjVu files are an exact copy of the print documents and do not suffer from OCR errors. More information on DjVu can be found on this DjVu Help page.

Searching Options

Boolean Searching

The boolean operators supported are and or and not. All you need to do is type the boolean operator you want within your query in the following fashion:

gas and works

gas or works

gas not works

Boolean operators are case-insensitive, either and or AND will work the same way in a search.

Grouping Boolean Operators

By default the search engine processes expresses left-to-right. So,

environment and waste or toxic

will return all documents that containing the words environment AND waste, or all documents documents that contain just the word toxic. You can avoid confusion like by forcing the order of operations with parentheses. So the above query would be re-written as:

environment and (waste or toxic)

Now the query will return all documents that contain the word environment and either the words waste or toxic.

Phrase Searching

In addition to keyword searching you can search for phrases of words that occur within the text. You indicate a phrase you wish to search using quotation marks. For example:

environment and "toxic waste"

Searches for all documents that contain the word environment and the exact phrase "toxic waste". Phrases can occur anywhere within queries. For example:

("age discrimination" and corporations) or "forced retirement"


A wild-card operator (*) that allows you to search for portions or words in available. For example the search:

environment* and "toxic waste"

Will return documents that contain words like environmental, environmentalist or environment and the phrase "toxic waste". The truncation operator only works at the end of words. If it is placed in the middle of the word the search will look for the * to be part of the phrase or word you are looking for.

Advanced Searching Options

The advanced search form contains two options that can help you narrow down your searching.

These two features, field searches and options for sorting your results, are highlighted in the following image:

Attorney General Advanced search sorting and field search features

Sorting Results

When you submit your search on the advanced form you can choose how you want your search results sorted. There are three options for the Attorney Generals Collection:

  1. By Rank, this is the default. The search engine ranks documents based on how the frequency of appearance of your search terms in the document. Ranks closer to 1000 are best.
  2. By Year, orders the results in ascending order by the year of the opinion.
  3. By Numbers, orders the results in ascending order by the number of the opinion.

Field Search

You can also limit your search to portions of the documents. By default, each query searches the full-text of each opinion. When you launch the search form you will notice that this entry is selected. You can also limit searches to just the following fields within the opinions:

  1. Citation, search for text that appears only with the citation for a particular opinion. Citations follow the format of Opinion Type Year, Opinion Number. For example: Formal Opinion 1975, 3.