Saturday, November 10, 2018

Harvard opens massive online case law library

Harvard Law School has been assiduously scanning millions of judicial opinions for the past 5 years in preparation for opening a free-to-the-public, massive online database of more than 6.5 million cases spanning 360 years of U.S. caselaw. The endeavor is known as the Caselaw Access Project and it's goal is to expand public access to U.S. law by making available for free all published U.S. court decisions in a digitized, consistent format. The CAP includes an application program interface, called CAPAPI, which allows users to access the database's metadata (as the website explains, this is primarily intended for software developers to access caselaw programmatically, whether to run their own analysis or build tools for other users), conduct full-text searches, or search for individual cases.

Here's what CAPAPI includes:

  • CAP includes all official, book-published United States case law — every volume designated as an official report of decisions by a court within the United States.
  • Our scope includes all state courts, federal courts, and territorial courts for American Samoa, Dakota Territory, Guam, Native American Courts, Navajo Nation, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Our earliest case is from 1658, and our most recent cases are from 2018.
  • Each volume has been converted into structured, case-level data broken out by majority and dissenting opinion, with human-checked metadata for party names, docket number, citation, and date.
  • We also plan to share (but have not yet published) page images and page-level OCR data for all volumes.

And here's what CAPAPI does not include:

  • New cases as they are published. We currently include volumes published through June, 2018, and may or may not include additional volumes in the future.
  • Cases not designated as officially published, such as most lower court decisions.
  • Non-published trial documents such as party filings, orders, and exhibits.
  • Parallel versions of cases from regional reporters, unless those cases were designated by a court as official.
  • Cases officially published in digital form, such as recent cases from Illinois and Arkansas.
  • Cases published after 1922 do not include headnotes.

Check out the CAP website an all its features here.


| Permalink


Post a comment