March 4, 2012
Browsing On A Sunday: Do Courts Cite Internet Legal Resources?
I’m doing a lecture on Internet legal research soon and I was wondering how valid are some of the sites I teach to the courts. I find Google Scholar very useful in my day job. Has anyone ever mentioned it in an appellate opinion? Yes, it seems, once, and only very recently. The California Supreme Court issued an opinion on January 27th called Vandermost v. Bowen, --- P.3d ----, 53 Cal.4th 421, 2012 WL 246627 (Cal.), 12 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 1119, 2012 Daily Journal D.A.R. 1110 (citations and search results generated from Westlaw) with this reference:
By contrast, academic observers have concluded that the Commission's maps, including the certified state Senate map, “represent[ ] an important improvement on the legislature-led redistricting of 2001. The new district boundaries kept more communities together and created more compact districts while at the same time increasing opportunities for minority representation.... [T]hese maps ... have the potential to modestly increase competition in California elections and the responsiveness of the legislative branch to changing voter preferences.” (Kogan & McGhee, Redistricting California: An Evaluation of the Citizens Commission Final Plans, supra, 4 Cal. Journal of Politics and Policy ____ (forthcoming Jan. 2012; available via Google Scholar at <http:// polisci2.ucsd.edu/vkogan/research/redistricting.pdf>, pp. 32–33 [as of Jan. 27, 2012] ).)
I think the Court should be citing the University of California San Diego, which is the actual source of the cited document at the end of the quote. Interestingly enough, the Court tipped its research strategy in finding the document, a forthcoming publication no less.
The Cornell Legal Information Institute gets one state hit in American Home Assur. Co., Inc. v. Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee, 121 S.W.3d 831, 2 A.L.R.6th 783, Tex.App.-Eastland, November 06, 2003 (NO. 11-02-00212-CV), and seven in the federal courts. The Oyez Project gets a reference in a federal case quoting Chief Justice Roberts’ reaction to a particular statute. The reference is to an oral argument. The citing case is Evans & Green, LLP v. Meadoworks, LLC, Slip Copy, 2012 WL 137885, W.D.Mo., January 17, 2012.
FindLaw gets a whopping 23 references, though some of those are involved around litigation involving FindLaw, and a few more relate to accessible resources by prisoners as part of access to a prison law library. The news feed at Leagle.com gets at least one mention in a 2010 Michigan case. The name “Leagle” shows up either as a personal name or as a misspelling. Justia gets five hits, though a few are in reference to litigation involving the site. As for government citation, GPO Access gets two citations, while the more current FDsys.gov has nothing yet. Regulations.gov gets five hits.
The point for me is these sites have enough respectability to be cited by the courts, meaning they have enough respectability to be used and cited by others. We teach students to use the original source, and court rules tend to enforce that concept. But with courts starting to go to legal content on the free Internet, we can’t discount some of these Internet legal sites, at least as a matter of reputation. [MG]
New Legal Thriller: Six SCOTUS justices killed while court is in session... .
Well, my first question was "who is still alive?" But this is a work of fiction.
The Last Justice (Sterling & Ross Publishers, 2012)[Amazon] is Anthony J. Franze's frist novel. In "real life", he is a lawyer in the Appellate and Supreme Court practice at a large Washington, D.C. law firm and an adjunct professor of law, teaching courses in Federal Courts and Appellate Practice. Here's the blurb for his legal thriller:
Chaos erupts at the U.S. Supreme Court when an assassin guns down six justices as they are hearing a case.
Solicitor General Jefferson McKenna, the government's top lawyer in the Supreme Court, is appointed to the multiagency commission investigating the murders. As Congress draws battle lines over who will replace the slain justices, the commission follows clue after clue, each one pointing to an unlikely suspect: McKenna himself.
In a desperate bid to prove his innocence, McKenna, on the run with his deputy, Kate Porter, must track down a disgraced law clerk with ties to hidden Saudi assets. But their search leads to unexpected alliances, unearthing dark secrets and corruption at the highest levels -- and the people with clues to the riddle keep turning up dead. From the marble halls of the high court to the inner corridors of the West Wing, from the D.C. housing projects to the desolate back roads of a New York Indian reservation, McKenna and Porter are on a collision course with a shadowy enemy who will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.
From its explosive first page to its haunting conclusion, The Last Justice explores the politics of law, the bounds of friendship and love, and the frightening price of unbridled ambition.