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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Courts - When will the 7th Circuit join the effort to both preserve, and make readily accessible, internet resources cited in opinions?

A Dec. 31st news release from the 9th Circuit [h/t How Appealing], quoted in full:

SAN FRANCISCO – The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is taking further steps to ensure that information derived from the Internet and cited in official court opinions remains available even if the original online resource ceases to exist or is altered.

Virtually all Internet users have experienced the frustration of a bad web link. This often results from “link rot,” which occurs over time as information is removed or moved to other online locations. Failure to obtain online information referenced in a court opinion, however, goes beyond inconvenience and can prove critical to judges and lawyers in considering other cases.

Since 2008, court librarians in the Ninth Circuit have been tracking citations to online resources and preserving original documents and/or web pages as Adobe PDF files. Although stored on the court website, http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/library/webcites/, the availability of these files is not readily apparent to legal researchers.

The process will change January 4, 2016, when PDF files of online resources cited in opinions are automatically added to the official case docket. The files will be immediately available to anyone accessing the docket through the court’s case management/electronic case filing system, or CM/ECF, and the federal judiciary’s PACER system.

“Preserving the Internet resource and having the information easily accessible from the docket will be extremely helpful to the bench, bar, and public,” observed Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas.

Since January 2008, circuit librarians have identified 643 Ninth Circuit opinions having citations to online resources. The yearly totals range from a high of 102 opinions in 2011 to 69 opinions in 2014 with an average of 80 opinions per year. The number of web links cited in an opinion ranges from one to as many as 30.

Besides documents and web pages, court librarians also track citations to audio and video files hosted on Internet websites. However, the court does not currently retain multimedia files due to storage constraints and other factors.

The Judicial Conference of the United States, the judiciary’s national governing body, has advised all federal courts to preserve online resources cited in decisions. The Ninth Circuit is the third federal appellate court to add online resources to its case dockets. The courts of appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and District of Columbia Circuit also do so.

ILB: The 7th Circuit also has undertaken a preservation effort, although it was not easy to find. It is in the Library of the 7th Circuit. The introduction:
Archived websites, links (urls) from opinions within the Seventh Circuit

The archived URL project was started when it was discovered how many internet addresses cited in court opinions were no longer active or had changed the material since the opinion was issued, making it difficult for researchers to view the information the court was referencing. This list contains all 7th Circuit opinions issued since January 1, 2007 which cite an internet address. Opinions from the U.S. District Court, S.D. Indiana were included in 2010.

Using the URL in the opinion, the library saves an archival copy, including a watermark indicating the date the archived copy was made. No attempt has been made by library staff to determine if any changes have been made since the last date the court visited the web page.

The opinions are arranged in docket number order. Click on the document description to retrieve the archived copy. Copy and paste the URL in your browser to link to the actual site (if still active).

Here is the list of 7th Circuit opinions containing internal links to internet resources, dating back to 2008. I did not count the number of cases, if someone does, let me know.

Near the end of the list, you will see the Rowe decisions, Rowe v. Gibson has been the center of much discussion on independent research by judges - see this Aug. 20, 2015 ILB post.

Two cases above that, you will see that an entry from the ILB has been preserved; it was cited in the CAC challenge to the way judges are elected in Marion County.

The next step? The 7th Circuit has not yet taken the next step, the one that the 9th Circuit is now undertaking, and describes:

The process will change January 4, 2016, when PDF files of online resources cited in opinions are automatically added to the official case docket. The files will be immediately available to anyone accessing the docket through the court’s case management/electronic case filing system, or CM/ECF, and the federal judiciary’s PACER system.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 31, 2015 09:07 AM
Posted to Courts in general | Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions | Indiana Courts