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I think what you are referring to is the federal "wild card" exemption that is an option for bankrupt debtors who have commenced a bankruptcy case filing. This federal wild card exemption is available throughout the US, if the debtor elects to use the federal exemptions to protect their personal assets rather than those exemptions offered by their respective State of residence.
The federal wild card exemption can be found at 11 U.S.C. Sec. 522(d)(5).
California also has a wild card exemption that can be used by bankrupt debtors who may choose to elect to use California State exemptions to protect their assets in a bankruptcy case filing. This can be found in the Code of Civil Procedure Section 703.140
I hope you founf this information helpful.