On Legal Texts and Cases

Rosina Weber, Alejandro Martins, and Rocardo M. Barcia

The search employed by judicial professionals when seeking for past similar legal decisions is known as jurisprudence research. Humans employ analogical reasoning when comparing a given actual situation with past decisions, noting the affinities between them. In the process of being reminded of a similar situation when faced to a new one, Case-Based Reasoning (CBR) systems simulate analogical reasoning. Judicial professionals have two sources of jurisprudence research: books and database systems. The search in books is time-consuming and imprecise due to the limitations of humans’ memory. Available text database systems do not guarantee the retrieval of useful documents. PRUDENTIA is the case-based reasoner tailored to the Brazilian system that confers efficiency to jurisprudence research. Judicial cases are described with natural language text, comprising a collection of textual documents. These texts are the experiences that require case engineering to be modeled in a structured representation of cases. We have developed an automatic means of performing the case engineering, that is, converting legal texts into structured representation of cases. Examples of PRUDENTIA demonstrate the power of similarity-based retrieval in a textual CBR system against text database applications improving the usefulness of the documents retrieved.

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