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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: K40

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Date posted: August 31, 2007 ; Last revised: October 20, 2007

Suggested Citation

Martin, Peter W., Reconfiguring Law Reports and the Concept of Precedent for a Digital Age (August 29, 2007). Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1010766 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1010766

Contact Information

Peter W. Martin (Contact Author)
Cornell Law School ( email )
Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
HOME PAGE: http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/faculty/bio.cfm?id=42

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