HT to Professor Peter Martin who posts in his blog, Citing Legally, the news that, as of January 1, 2014, “sixty years after the Oklahoma Supreme Court designated the West Publishing Company as the ‘official publisher’ of its decisions, it [has] revoked that designation.” Going forward, the electronic versions of Oklahoma appellate court decisions rendered after January 1st and posted on the State’s Court Network are now deemed “official.” Read more of Professor Martin’s post here. Way to go Oklahoma — You’re O-K!
Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Illinois announced that it will adopt a vendor-neutral citation system. According to the press release, the official citation of Illinois Supreme Court and Appellate Court opinions will change to a public-domain numbering and paragraph scheme.
Concurrently, the Illinois Supreme Court will also be discontinuing official printed volumes for Illinois state case law. “The official body of Illinois court opinions will now reside on the website of the Illinois Supreme Court, readily available to lawyers, judges and law clerks for official citation and to any member of the public who wishes to read them.” This will save private lawyers as well as the court system quite a fair amount of money now that judges, law libraries and law firms will no longer have to purchase and store hundreds of printed volumes. For those concerned about authentication issues surrounding online case law, this should quiet your fears since the opinions will come directly from the courts themselves.
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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.
Today Cicely and I are pleased to announce Justia’s newest free law offering: FREE Daily Opinion Summaries of all Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal and select State Supreme Courts!
Our Daily Opinion Summaries deliver clear, concise summaries of breaking court opinions right to your in-box. The summaries are tagged by practice area so that readers can quickly identify which opinions are relevant to their practice. This is a powerful tool for attorneys, journalists, and others looking to keep up with latest developments in the law. All summaries are written by licensed attorneys.
How to subscribe
To subscribe, visit the Justia Subscriptions Page at Daily.Justia.com. If you already have a Justia account, sign in to subscribe right away. If you are not yet registered, it’s fast and free! Once registered, simply choose the jurisdictions and practice areas of interest to you.
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Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but there’s still time to get terrific gifts for lawyers and clients. Here are some of our favs:
- The Apple iPad — It’s sleek, small, and über cool. It holds nifty free legal apps like Fastcase to find state and federal statutes and cases and Oyez’s PocketJustice that let’s lawyers listen to Supreme Court oral arguments. When your attorney friend is done raging at opposing counsel’s latest outrageous offer to their client, the attorney can vent his or her anger by playing Angry Birds or Star Wars Falcon Gunner. Plus, it makes them (and everyone they meet) think that they’re a swell lawyer, right?
- Adopt a Volume of the Federal Reporter — No, we’re not crazy (at least not all the time)! For $1,200, you can actually make a tax-deductible donation to Public.Resource.Org to support scanning a volume or two of the first series of the Federal Reporter of the United States in the name of your favorite lawyer or law firm. The donation is to help them “adopt” a volume of federal case law from 1880 – 1924 that is now in the public domain.
Thanks Google! Google has put FREE US case law online in Google Scholar The US Federal case law database includes US Supreme Court opinions since 1 US 1 (pre – 1776), Federal Appeals opinions since 1 F 2d 1 (1924+), and many Federal District Court opinions from F Supp. Opinions from all 50 states are included since 1950. Internal page numbers are included, and cases are hyperlinked to other cases within each case. When observing a particular case, you can quickly see how the observed case has been cited (with the quote from the observed case) with links to the cases using the particular quote, in addition to a list of all cases citing the observed case.
Here are a few screen shots, but check it out yourself, and you may never return to this blog post
The Google Scholar Advanced Search allows you to search a particular state.
Example case Bush v Gore
Example of the “How Cited” tab for Bush v Gore
Google’s database of free case law has just been released (Rick Klau (@rklau) tweeted it last night as it went live :), and I am sure there will be additional features in the search functionality and data. It is fantastic that Google has put this case law online for free. Google can even use their hundreds of lawyers to test it out
A few weeks ago the New York Times floated a rumor/great idea that Carl Malamud, the great hard working free information Internet do-gooder, was being mentioned as a potential candidate for head of the Government Printing Office. Of course, we at Justia cheered this idea on — who better to bring government publishing into the digital age than the man whose will and technology know how has lead millions of court decisions, SEC filings, patents, Congressional videos online and other public domain documents being brough online for all to research and enjoy.
Well, it turns out the rumor is true! We wanted to be among the first to announce our unqualified support for Carl as Public Printer of the United States. Carl’s vision for open, secure, and efficient government publishing will be a welcome asset to the Obama Administration, helping to usher in the new era of accessible government.
At Justia, we believe that information produced with taxpayer dollars — including laws and legal opinions — belong to the people. We want all Americans to have access to the law, and to achieve that end, we need transparency, accountability, and a spirit of openness in our government. Carl Malamud embodies all of these qualities.
Carl’s ability to lead and organize a variety of folks in this effort has been extremely impressive. He has an incredible ability to get folks from a variety of backgrounds to work together on a common goal for the public good. Most recently, through his work with public.resource.org, Carl has made an invaluable contribution to the growing collection of free case law, codes, and regulations on the internet. His Pacer Recycling Program adds court filings, opinions, and other public domain materials.
Carl also understands and supports business. Carl has been a CEO, and he especially knows the Internet business marketplace. He has been very encouraging to us and others to use the data and materials he has collected at public.resource.org to create new products and services. He has been invaluable in helping with technology issues we face in dealing with large amounts of public data. With Carl as head of the GPO, many more small businesses, would greatly benefit from the additional access to public information (and I am sure that many more new businesses would start up as well!).
Carl’s demonstrated commitment to preserving and extending our public access to the public record and government works makes him the perfect candidate for the GPO. We are promised change — and we need someone like Carl to make that happen. Having someone with the technological and leadership skills of Carl Malamud running the Government Printing Office will make the USA a better place for all! We cannot think of a bigger win for public access to government documents!
Please join us in supporting Carl by visiting his “campaign” site and reading his policy documents: www.yeswescan.org. Carl is a great man who deserves all our support!
Peace & Yes We Scan!
Tim, Ken, Stacy, Courtney, Cicely, Vasu, Dan, Nick, Soby and the Rest of the Justia Team!!!
As public domain information hero Carl Malamud is working on getting case law online and into the public domain (we have helped a bit :). Carl, donors, and the Public.Resource.org team have done a lot and… more to come…
But in addition to case law, Carl has also been working to get other public legal documents online and into the public domain. These documents include the legislative histories of the laws. So this was interesting… it looks like Thomson-West has signed an exclusive agreement with the GAO to have these legislative histories on WestLaw.
From Carl note (and originally posted on Boing Boing…
The law librarians at GAO have compiled complete federal legislative histories from 1915 on. These are the definitive dossiers that track a bill through the hearing process and into law. If you want to divine the intent of Congress, this is where you go.
Read this doc on Scribd: Contract Between Thomson West and GAO
Read this doc on Scribd: Thomson West Web Page
Thomson West claims they have exclusive access to these public documents and even go so far as to boast that you should purchase this exclusive “product” from West because the GAO law librarians (public employees!) have done all the work for you!
If you’re interesting in tracking this issue, I’ve created a Scribd group that has all the documents we’ve obtained so far. Next step: we asked for a copy of every document scanned under the FOIA laws!”
Well I am sure the US Government will give copies over to Carl to put up for free, and then back to the GAO itself to host and Brewster and the Internet Archive and Google and Cornell and the other law schools put online and into the public domain for free.
The team at FastCase have announced the largest free online US case law database at The Public Library of Law at plol.org. The site is GREAT! The database of cases includes all of the Supreme Court cases and US Court of Appeals cases since 1950 (the same data FastCase recently presented to the Legal Commons project) AND US state case law since 1997 for all 50 states in nice standardized searchable, and usable html format for all states (not the random state by state format many other sites have collected the data in).
In addition to the case law, the The Public Library of Law also has online or links to the codes and statutes, constitutions and regulations of the Federal Government and all 50 US state governments.
The Public Library of Law is a beautiful site that works! Congrats FastCase!!!
Here comes the Legal Commons.
Carl Malamud and the team at Public.Resource.org with Larry Lessig and the Creative Commons gang got the FastCase deal done and the case law online. The cases include all of the Federal Court of Appeals decisions since 1950, and all of the US Supreme Court decisions.
You can obtain a copy of all of the cases at Public.Resource.org case archive. Public.Resource.org has tar balls for easy downloading of the complete data sets. There is still some fixing of the cases going on, and the community will be working to get the internal page numbering for the cases (among other features). We did an initial conversion of the Federal Court of Appeals cases on Justia with some cross linking to other cases etc…. We and many others will be fixing these up, as well as sending changes and issues to Public.Resource.org where the master copy will be provided for free to all.
Carl is inviting developers to work together to provide stronger and more transparent “operating system” for all.
Developers and interested members of the public are invited to join our open discussion group which will evaluate the format of this public domain data. These cases and codes are America’s operating system and for the ﬁrst time Americans can use them with freedom.
Ed Walters CEO of FastCase worked with Carl to really make this happen. The Legal Commons financial support for these datasets came from donars including David Boies, the Elbaz Family Foundation, John Gilmore and the Omidyar Network.
When did Carl start focusing on free law?… Not too bad.
Now on to the state cases, codes and regs (year by year), some legislation updates, annotations and presto free legal stuff for everyone everywhere. LegalCommons.