Reconfiguring Law Reports and the Concept of Precedent for a Digital Age
Peter W. Martin
Cornell Law School
August 29, 2007
Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-013
Adherence to the "rule of law" entails a strong commitment to consistency - a belief that throughout a jurisdiction and across time judges should treat like cases alike. For over a century, the U.S. judiciary's pursuit of this aim has relied principally upon print law reports. With unsettling rapidity, digital technology has dislodged that system, in practical fact, if not yet in the way lawyers and judges talk and think about case law. This article explores gains one might hope for from a "judicial consistency" system liberated from the constraints of print, likely affects on concepts of precedent, as well as challenges and forces of resistance standing in the way of change.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 37
Keywords: neutral citation, precedent, appellate courts, stare decisis, official reports, digital technology, online, Westlaw, Lexis, West Publishing
JEL Classification: K40working papers series
Date posted: August 31, 2007 ; Last revised: October 20, 2007
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