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US Supreme Court *finally* moving to adopt electronic filing AND free access

This is welcome news re the US Supreme Court. Fulfilling a promise outlined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in his 2014 year-end report on the federal judiciary, the Supreme Court is adopting electronic filing for all of its cases. The new electronic filing system will begin operation on November 13, 2017. Full and free Supreme Court dockets will be a boon to lawyers, researchers, students, and the public. Is this the beginning of the end for the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system (he says hopefully!)?

After lagging behind other courts for years, the Supreme Court is finally catching up on a key technological feature that will be a boon to researchers, lawyers and analysts of all kinds. It’s moving to adopt electronic filing.

The change will allow the public to access legal filings for all future cases — free of charge. Beginning Nov. 13, the court will require “parties who are represented by counsel” to upload digital copies of their paper submissions. Parties representing themselves will have their filings uploaded by the court’s staff.

All those submissions will then be entered into an online docket for each case, and they will be accessible from the court’s homepage.

via The Supreme Court is about to become more transparent, thanks to technology – The Washington Post.

LII and Justia give “Oyez Project” a new home. Supreme Court audio to remain free!

This is great news. A few months ago, the news broke that Jerry Goldman, who ran the Oyez Project, was looking to retire and cash in his site for upwards of $1 million. I was afraid that some for-profit publisher like WestLaw of LexisNexis was going to scoop it up. But now it seems that there’s a new deal between Oyez, Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute (LII) and Justia, the online publisher of legal information, to keep Oyez alive and freely accessible. Public domain crisis averted!

Read more about it.

After months of uncertainty about its future, the Oyez Project, a free repository of more than 10,000 hours of U.S. Supreme Court oral-argument audio and other court resources, has found a new home.

The project’s founder, Jerry Goldman, who is retiring soon, told The National Law Journal on Tuesday that a newly minted arrangement with Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute and Justia, the online publisher of legal information, will keep Oyez alive.

“It’s a perfect match,” said Goldman, 71. “They will be great stewards.”

Launched in 1993, Oyez.org boasts nearly 9 million visits annually, ranging from students doing term papers to Supreme Court practitioners rehearsing upcoming arguments.

The Supreme Court has taped oral arguments for the last 60 years and deposited them with the National Archives. Oyez makes the audio available on its website with additional information, including searchable transcripts that are synchronized to the audio.

That makes it easy to hear the moment during arguments in the 2003 affirmative action case Grutter v. Bollinger when then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist addressed advocate Maureen Mahoney—a former law clerk of his—by her first name. Or, more recently, the time on March 27, 2012, when the late Justice Antonin Scalia compared the coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act to an order that the public buy broccoli.

via ‘Oyez Project’ New Home Will Keep Supreme Court Audio Free to Public | National Law Journal.

Classroom Deliberation: Should the United States Senate Conduct Confirmation Hearings for a Supreme Court Vacancy in a Presidential Election Year?

As part of C-SPAN’s “Classroom Deliberations” site (produced by C-SPAN’s Senior Fellows, designed to engage students in classroom deliberations about current issues being debated in the United States) a new lesson:

  • Should the United States Senate Conduct Confirmation Hearings for a Supreme Court Vacancy in a Presidential Election Year?

    Following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13th, 2016, the Republican controlled Senate and leading Republican presidential candidates stated that a Supreme Court vacancy which occurs in the same calendar year as a presidential election should be left vacant until the newly elected President can make a nomination. President Obama believes the President has a Constitutional responsibility to make a nomination when a vacancy occurs.

    Democratic Senators, currently in the minority, argue that no Supreme Court nominee sent to the Judiciary Committee by a sitting President in the last 100 years has been denied a hearing. Senate Republicans argue that Democrats are on record in the past as having supported the idea of not holding hearings on potential candidates nominated by President Bush in the last year of his Presidency.

    Is the Senate violating its Constitutional responsibility to provide “Advice and Consent” to President Obama’s nominee?

    Should a lame duck president be allowed to make a lifetime appointment in the final months of their administration?

Oyez Supreme Court Archive up for sale

This is a sad state of affairs IMHO. The gentleman who runs Oyez, the privately-run US Supreme Court audio archive, is set to retire. But it seems that he wants to sell the database for $1million dollars! He unironically doesn’t want to sell it to a private company because “They’ll put it behind a paywall and charge people to use it,” and “That’s against my values.” Harvard Law School has offered to take over the operating costs of the service. Here’s hoping that there’s a kickstarter campaign or some such that will assure that the public domain content remains in the public domain!

It’s not on Craigslist yet, but Jerry Goldman says options are narrowing for Oyez.org, the private online archive of Supreme Court materials he has been building since the early 1990s and providing free to the public. Mr. Goldman, 70 years old, retires from teaching in May, and when he goes so does Oyez, currently hosted at Chicago-Kent College of Law.

The project, which has two full-time staff members and several student employees, costs between $300,000 and $500,000 annually to operate, he says.

The sticking point, however, isn’t the annual budget; Harvard Law School, for one, has offered to pick up the operating cost. But Mr. Goldman also wants to be paid for the sweat he’s put into his baby–or at least the intellectual property it represents—something he estimates is worth well over $1 million.

via Future of Oyez Supreme Court Archive Hangs in the Balance – Law Blog – WSJ.

Supreme Court Website Addresses link-rot and content-drift

The Supreme Court has announced two important changes to its website. The Court will now highlight changes to slip opinions and the Court will now attempt to preserve web-based content cited in Court opinions. These website enhancements address two digital preservation problems: changes to content over time, known as “content-drift”, and content being deleted or moved, called “link-rot.”

Here is the text of the two announcements, which appeared under the “What’s New” section of the Court’s homepage:

Beginning with the October Term 2015, postrelease edits to slip opinions on the Court’s website will be highlighted and the date they occur will be noted. The date of any revision will be listed in a new “Revised” column on the charts of Opinions, In-Chambers Opinions, and Opinions Related to Orders under the “Opinions” tab on the website. The location of a revision will be highlighted in the opinion. When a cursor is placed over a highlighted section, a dialog box will open to show both old and new text. See Sample Opinions” for an example of how postrelease edits will appear on the website.

The Court’s Office of Information Technology is collaborating with the Library, the Reporter of Decisions’ Office, and the Clerk’s Office to preserve web-based content cited in Court opinions. To address the problem of “link rot,” where internet material cited in Court opinions may change or cease to exist, web-based content included in Court opinions from the 2005 Term forward is being made available on the Court’s website. Hard copies will continue to be retained in the case files by the Clerk’s Office. See “Internet Sources Cited in Opinions.”

An article in the New York Times puts these changes into context:

  • Supreme Court Plans to Highlight Revisions in Its Opinions, By ADAM LIPTAKOCT. New York Times (Oct. 5, 2015).

    The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would disclose after-the-fact changes to its opinions, a common practice that had garnered little attention until a law professor at Harvard wrote about it last year.

    The court also took steps to address “link rot” in its decisions. A study last year found that nearly half of hyperlinks in Supreme Court opinions no longer work.

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