Thursday, May 26, 2016
The Oyez Project is a free, online repository containing more than 10,000 audio tapes of U.S. Supreme Court arguments going back 60 years. According to this story in the National Law Journal, the Oyez Project is about to get a new home, moving from its present host the Chicago-Kent College of Law to Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute in co-sponsorship with Justia, the online publisher of legal information. The National Law Journal hints that the continuing financial viability of the Oyez Project was in doubt until Cornell and Justia stepped in to ink a new deal to host the project. Oyez is a tremendously valuable resource for scholars, law students, legal skills instructors, practitioners and anyone else with an interest in appellate oral arguments. Here's an excerpt from the NLJ story:
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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.
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The project is now housed at Chicago-Kent College of Law in Chicago under an agreement that expires soon. By the time the new term of the Supreme Court begins in October, Goldman said, its home will be Cornell’s Legal Information Institute, though Chicago-Kent may stay involved.
“We’re delighted to be the recipient of what is a tremendous gift,” said Thomas Bruce, co-founder and director of the institute at Cornell. “Oyez is obviously of huge interest to the research community” and to lawyers, law students and the general public.
Tim Stanley, chief executive officer of Justia, described Oyez as the source of “a lot of stuff that you don’t find anywhere else” that is important “from a public-information standpoint.” He added, “people like to see how their institutions work.” Justia has given technical assistance to Oyez for years; when you click on an Oyez link to a Supreme Court decision, you are sent to Justia.
The Oyez site will look the same for now, though Bruce and Stanley both say that over time improvements and expansions will be made to make more information about the court even more accessible. “We’re still figuring it out,” Bruce said.
Stanley said he sees possible alliances with other law schools, law firms and legal publishing companies. For now, he said, “Oyez.org is not going to change much at all.” Stanley said he is committed to keeping access to Oyez free to the public.
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