Articles Tagged with gpo

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filing_cabinetsThe Judicial Council announced last week that they plan to expand a pilot program to push federal court opinions to FDSys. In theory, that means that all federal court opinions could be published and freely available in the FDSys database soon.

FDSys is the digital repository for federal publications. It is operated by the Government Printing Office. Last year, the Judicial Council announced that it would begin integrating some opinions from PACER into FDSys. It began with opinions from 28 courts (three circuit courts of appeal). In December, I checked up on that and saw that FDSys had slip opinions in it and that they were actually being indexed by Google. I noted that they were a little behind, and they were slip opinions, not the officially published opinion, but hey – better than nothing.

In the latest announcement, the Judicial Council tells us that  “the functionality to transfer opinions to FDsys is included in the latest release of CM/ECF which is now available to all courts. Twenty-nine courts participated in the original pilot, and now, all courts may opt to participate in the program.” If I am reading this correctly, federal courts may now opt in to have their opinions transferred to FDSys. It’s not automatic or mandatory. Continue reading →

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It appears that court opinions in FDSys are being indexed by the search engines now. If you’ll recall, the GPO announced last year that it was importing opinions from some federal courts into its centralized database (FDSys). In theory, this means that users would be able to search across a large collection of government documents that will now include published court opinions.

FDSys now contains opinions from 28 federal courts, including 3 Circuit Courts of Appeal (the 2nd, 8th, and 10th). I am happy to see that these are now indexed by Google, so the opinions will appear among search results when individuals search the web. It’s one step closer to aggregating this information in one central location.

Of course, FDSys is still very limited. It’s only pulling opinions from a few courts, and it doesn’t seem to be up to date. I searched for a case from October (Windsor v. United States), and could not find anything. The GPO announced last year that its funding was cut, so this program may be stalled.

FDSys archives only slip opinions, which you cannot cite to once the official opinion is published.  While many of the documents are”authentic” and “digitally signed” by the GPO’s definition, they do not meet the standards for citation imposed by the courts.

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The Administrative Office of the US Courts issued a press release last week announcing that a “New Pilot Project Will Enhance Public Access to Federal Court Opinions.” According to the statement, select federal appellate and district courts will make their published opinions available on FDSys, as “FDSys can provide the public with a robust search engine that can search common threads across opinions and courts.” FDSys is run by the Government Printing Office (GPO), which issued a similar statement.

Let me start by saying I think this is a good thing. PACER has a lot of limitations, and moving opinions into a better search engine that is free to use and search is quite helpful. I like the idea of putting the bulk of government legal material (cases, codes, memos, etc.) into one database. It helps that the database will have the imprimatur of government on it, which will quiet the concerns about authentication that always pop up in these discussions.

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