Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=950387
 


 



Neutral Citation, Court Web Sites, and Access to Authoritative Case Law


Peter W. Martin


Cornell Law School

December 2006

Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 06-047

Abstract:     
In 1994 the Wisconsin Bar and Judicial Council together urged the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take two dramatic steps with the combined aim of improving access to state case law: 1) adopt a new system of neutral citation and 2) establish a digital archive of decisions directly available to all publishers and the public. The recommendations set off a storm, and the Wisconsin court deferred decision on the package.

In the years since those events, the background conditions have shifted dramatically. Neutral citation has been endorsed by the AALL and ABA and formally adopted in over a dozen states, including Wisconsin. Thomson's acquisition of the West Publishing Company removed the principal source of opposition. Court Web sites, non-existent in 1994, are now a standard feature of e-government with the result that the idea of a public case archive, open to all, no longer stretches imaginations.

With the environment seemingly so much more hospitable to the 1994 Wisconsin recommendations, one might expect to see them widely implemented. Yet less than a handful of states have effectively put them to work in tandem. This paper describes the factors that came together in the right way and at the right time in those states, along with the apparent results. It also explores some of the reasons why they stand today as lonely illustrations of "best practice."

Number of Pages in PDF File: 37

Keywords: online, case law, digital, electronic, copyright, citation, West Publishing, legal information, bar groups, Lexis, Westlaw, Versuslaw, Loislaw, casemaker, fastcase

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Date posted: December 19, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Martin, Peter W., Neutral Citation, Court Web Sites, and Access to Authoritative Case Law (December 2006). Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 06-047. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=950387 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.950387

Contact Information

Peter W. Martin (Contact Author)
Cornell Law School ( email )
524 College Ave
Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
HOME PAGE: http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/faculty/bio.cfm?id=42
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