Forcing the government’s handout?
In a move aimed to both add to transparency to the court system and to encourage federal and state governments to electronically publish their own court documents resource.org has plans to release a Report of Current Opinions (RECOP) through their law.gov site. This report will include a free HTML feed of all slip and final opinions from the appellate courts of all states and the federal government. In addition tocurrent opinions the site has plans to release 3 million pages of 9th Circuit briefs and the first 10 volumes of the Federal Reporter. Google has awarded the site a $2 million grant to help them realize their vision.
Resorce.org hopes that by providing the interface and initial infrastructure for publication that state and federal governments will become involved and eventually take over publishing duties. To encourage the government’s participation law.gov has is operating with a built in sunset clause. Their reasons are twofold. First the operating cost of publishing opinions is not insignificant. Second, creators and contributors hope that federal and state governments will realize the impact they anticipate law.gov will have and continue to publish the opinions themselves after RECOP’s two years of operation has run its course.
Creator Carl Malamud indicated that the first wave of published opinions were to be up by January 11. In my investigation of the site I could find nothing more than mission statements and directions of intent. In order to evaluate how effective the site will be at disseminating information and at forcing the government’s had we will have to wait for the material to be published. Though for the site to be a success, both in increasing transparency and in forcing the government to take on publication duties, the interface will have to be comprehensive and popular.