Learn With Me 2: The Great Jurisprudence Hunt–How to research for case readings the traditional way and on the Internet.

Hello!  How are you doing? Hope you’re all doing well.

I’m back, following up on my promise to teach you how to find those cases you’ve been assigned to read!

I can only remember the first time I was looking for cases, trying to figure out how to look for them in the library. Oh yes, I was a bit lost! But a kind upperclassman told me how to look for them. And I’ll be paying it forward.

Have your professors already assigned you cases to read? They probably have. And more likely, they’ve given the name of the case, plus some numbers and some letters. Like, SCRA and PHIL. I was embarrassed to admit that as a rather confused and embarrassed fresher years ago, I was like, “SCRA? PHIL? What the hell are they?” after our professor handed out our course outlines, and with it, the assigned case readings.

PHIL stands for Philippine Reports Annotated. These Reports cover Supreme Court Decisions from 1901 to the 60s. A caveat though: You will possibly find instances that the court decisions are in Spanish, especially those cases whose decisions were penned around 1900, 1901–or even as late as the 1920s! What I do in this instance is to look the case up online, copy and paste the whole text on Google Translate, then bam! Thing is, it’s not the most accurate translation. For me though, it’s Hobson’s choice. Either that, or run the risk of coming to class empty-handed. Which is a no, of course.

The SCRA, or the Supreme Court Reports Annotated on the other hand, are Supreme Court decisions made during the mid to late 1960s onwards.

So, how do you look for these cases?

If you’re using the traditional route, and you’re in your school’s law library, you can recognise a SCRA volume by its chocolate brown body, the spine is also brown, with red and gold accents. The Philippine Reports, however, has a cream coloured body, with red, gold, and black accents on the spine.

Now, on to the hunt.

Your professor must have given you and your classmates a case title, some numbers and letters. For example, for tutorial purposes, you’re going to look for the case Pesigan v. Angeles, with the citation 129 SCRA 174. How can you find it?

The 129 is the volume number, the SCRA is the source material, and 174 is the page number. So, if you get Volume 129 of the Supreme Court Reports Annotated, turn to page 174, and there you’ll find the case you’re looking for. Easy peasy, right? 🙂 The same thing works for Philippine Reports, except that it’s PHIL instead of SCRA. Some schools have the shelves for the SCRA and Philippine Reports behind the librarian’s booth (or desk), so you ask the librarian or the student assistant to help you locate the volumes. More often than not, it is the student who gets the volumes off the shelf.

Searching for cases online is a different matter. Nowadays some professors also add the following details in their citation: the GR (General Register) number (just what the GR is is explained here) and the date of promulgation/decision. Using again my “sample” case–Pesigan v. Angeles, its GR Number is L-64279, and the date of promulgation is April 30, 1984. You can use these details while searching for the case on Google. My go-to places to search for Philippine jurisprudence is the Central Bookstore e-Library and Lawphil.net (where a lot of law students go to to research for cases).

So, hope this post helps! I’ll be back next time, teaching you guys how to make a case digest! 🙂

Image credits here.


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