Law and Conversation

February 1, 2011

More on court opinions on the Internet

Yesterday I posted about the distinction that a decreasing number of jurisdictions, including Illinois and the federal courts, make between “precedential” and “nonprecedential” opinions, historically referred to as “published” and “unpublished.”  Today brings word of an interesting new article by Peter W. Martin of Cornell Law School, “Abandoning Law Reports for Official Digital Case Law.” The article, which you can download without charge from SSRN, discusses Arkansas’s cessation of publishing its state courts’ opinions in the Arkansas Reporter, which had been the official record of those decisions, in favor of posting them on the Internet, where the state’s Reporter of Decisions maintains them as official records, and “explore[s] the distinctive alignment of factors that both led and enabled the Arkansas judiciary to take a step that courts in other jurisdictions, state and federal, have so far resisted.”  Thanks to Prof. Martin for making this article freely available, and a Hat Tip to Paul Lomio of Stanford Law School and Legal Research Plus for posting and tweeting about it.

On still more breaking electronic legal news, congratulations to young legal research provider FastCase on inking deals with the D.C. and Georgia Bars.  I wrote in 2009 about the company’s service, which the Illinois State Bar Association provides to its members as a free benefit, for the Illinois Bar Journal.  As part of preparing the article, I interviewed Fastcase’s CEO, Ed Walters, whose business acumen so impressed me that I interviewed him again and got more great commentary for a subsequent IBJ article on social media for lawyers.

And in other news related to the Illinois Supreme Court’s recent amendment of SCR 23, the state court rule that distinguishes precedential from nonprecedential appellate opinions, my profile of Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride in the Illinois Bar Journal, which includes a sidebar explaining the justice’s leadership with respect to the court’s action, is now up.  (Link may not work if you’re not a member of ISBA, and, if you’re a lawyer or a judge, you really ought to pony up and join 😉 .)  The justice has a fascinating and inspirational story, and I was honored to get to tell it in the pages of the IBJ.

On a completely different subject that has nothing to do with the law or court opinions, here’s a link to a LadyGagaLicious video:  Zheng Lab’s hilarious “Bad Project.” Send it to your favorite scientist!  Hat Tip:  Freelance writer Sandra Boncek Hume.

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2 Comments »

  1. Helen, you continue to be a treasure. Thank you.
    As the father of two Ph.D. scientists (one in process, other done), the Lady Gaga You Tube is the tops.
    On the public access to law opinions, you are on the ball as well.
    We need to convince the Supreme Court to allow public access to all publications of Supreme Court committees, including the IPI, Rules Committee, etc. The lawyers who serve on those committees do so pro bono and the work product should be in the public domain, rather than something lawyers need to buy from Thomson Reuters.
    Keep up the great work, best wishes, Bruce

    Comment by Bruce Pfaff — February 1, 2011 @ 7:13 pm | Reply

  2. Bruce, as always, you are incredibly kind. Glad you enjoyed the Lady Gaga spoof as well as the rest of the post, and glad you’re reading!

    Comment by Helen Gunnarsson — February 1, 2011 @ 8:46 pm | Reply


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