Selected Comments/Documents Submitted to the Committee on Automation Judicial Conference. Set 2, 80-115


March 25, 1997 HyperLaw, Inc.®

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Selected Comments/Documents Submitted to the Committee on Automation Judicial Conference. Set 2, 80-115

The following comments are responses to requests for comments by the Administrative Office concerning the ABA Resolution on ciations. These are made available by HyperLaw with the help of the American Association of Legal Publishers and Tax Analysts. The comments were scanned from photocopies obtained from the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, which would not provide the copies in electronic form.

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Before the

In re:
Notice of Opportunity to Comment on the ABA Citation Resolution


The Reporters Committee submits these comments in response to
the notice of opportunity to comment on the ABA Citation Resolution
posted in the Federal Register filed on February 20, 1997. Request
for Comments, FR Doc. 97-4230 (1997).

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is a voluntary,
unincorporated association of news editors and reporters dedicated to
defending the First Amendment and freedom of information rights of
the print and broadcast media.


The Reporters Committee supports the ABA Citation Resolution
because it would facilitate open access to the courts and therefore
promote public understanding of the judiciary.

The public relies on the press to keep it informed about
government activities, and the Reporters Committee supports
initiatives that create new avenues of access to journalists in their
efforts to gather and disseminate the news. Low-cost and easy
computer access to court opinions would enable the media to keep the
public better informed on important judicial and legislative


The public is entitled to maximum access to the law of the land.
Wheaton v. Peters, 33 U.S. (8 Pet.) 591 (1834). Such access is not
only consistent with the public's First Amendment and common law
right of access to court proceedings and documents, Press-Enterprise
Co. v. Superior Court, 478 U.S. 1 (1986); Nixon v. Warner
Communications, 435 U.S. 589 (1978), but is a prerequisite to making
the right of access meaningful.

Court decisions constitute "the authentic exposition and
interpretation of the law, which . . . bind[s] every citizen. . . ."
Banks v. Manchester, 128 U.S. 244 (1888). Stare decisis requires that
opinions be available for purposes of research and citation, and to
provide general information to the public as to the state and
development of the law. Garfield v. Palmieri, 193 F. Supp. 137, 143
(S.D.N.Y. 1961), aff'd, 297 F.2d 526 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 369 U.S.
871 (1962).

The judiciary has a duty not only to publish and disseminate
its decisions, Lowenschuss v. West Publishing Co., 542 F.2d 180, 185
(3d Cir. 1976), but also to employ all available means to make the
law as available to the public as possible.

Justice requires that all should have free access to the
opinions, and that it is against sound public policy to prevent
this, or to suppress and keep from the earliest knowledge of the
public the statutes or the decisions and opinions of the

Nash v. Lathrop, 142 Mass. 29, 6 N.E. 559 (1886); L. Ray Patterson &
Craig Joyce, Monopolizing the Law: The Scope of Copyright Protection
for Law Reports and Statutory Compilations, 36 UCLA L. Rev. 719, 749
(April 1989) (the public should "enjoy the full benefits of enhanced
access to law which computer-assisted legal research offers, and to
which the public is entitled").

As recognized by the ABA Citation Resolution, court decisions
are increasingly available electronically, through computer bulletin
boards, disks and the Internet. This new technology creates the
possibility of unfettered and instantaneous access to the law via
computers. The Reporters Committee supports adoption of the ABA
proposal because it would expedite the free flow of information to
the public.


The public "has an interest in accurate reports of judicial
proceedings," Time, Inc. v. Firestone, supra, 424 U.S. 448, 96 S. Ct.
958 (1976), and the press plays a critical role in aiding public
oversight of judicial activities. Richmond Newspapers v. Virginia,
448 U.S. 555 (1980). By promoting public scrutiny of the judiciary,
press coverage of the court system ensures that trials are conducted
efficiently and fairly. Sheppard v. Maxwell, 384 U.S. 333, 350
(1966). Moreover, providing the rationale underlying Government
decisionmaking promotes public understanding of our civil and
political institutions, and is an essential function of a free press.
Nebraska Press Ass'n v. Stuart, 427 U.S. 539, 586 (1976) (Brennan,
J., concurring).

Journalists are utilizing the new technology to gain
instantaneous access to vast quantities of information, which has
enlarged investigative and data-gathering possibilities. David Noach,
Setting Parameters, Editor & Publisher, February 8, 1997 (citing a
1995 study in which 68% of the journalists polled said they use the
Internet for research). Adoption of the ABA proposal would enhance
journalists' access to court opinions, and therefore assist them in
providing the public with timely and accurate information about
important matters of public concern.

For these reasons, the Reporters Committee urges the Committee
to adopt the ABA's proposed citation system.

The Reporters Committee appreciates the opportunity to comment
on the proposed amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

Jane E. Kirtley, Esq.
Executive Director

Barbara Lerner, Esq.
Legal Fellow

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
1101 Wilson Boulevard
Suite 1910
Arlington, VA. 22209
(703) 807-2100

March 12, 1997



West Group ("West"), through its undersigned counsel, hereby
requests the opportunity to testify at the public hearing to be held
regarding the Judicial Conference of the United States ("Judicial
Conference") Committee on Automation and Technology ("Committee")
Federal Register "Notice of Opportunity to Comment and of Public
Hearing on the ABA Citation Resolution" of February 21, 1997. West
understands that this public hearing is to be held on Thursday, April
3, 1997 beginning at 9:00 a.m. in the ceremonial courtroom of the
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 3rd and
Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C.

As a leading publisher of reports of federal court decisions in
its Supreme Court Reporter, Federal Reporter, Federal Supplement,
Bankruptcy Reporter, Federal Rules Decisions and U.S. Claims Court
Reporter publications, in its West CD ROM Libraries products and on
its WESTLAW online legal research service, among others, West is
vitally interested in and would be affected by -- and its customers
and other users of its products and services would be affected by --
any new citation system adopted by the federal courts. West's vital
interest is, in fact, clear from the ABA Citation Resolution
(formally, 1996 ABA Recommendation 107 -- "ABA Recommendation")
itself. Specifically, a West publication, Federal Reporter, is cited
in the citation example used in the Recommendation and West, or West
products and services, are mentioned fourteen times in the
accompanying Report. No other legal publisher (or its
products/services) is mentioned so often. In short, it is clear that
West -- and, more importantly, West customers and other users of West
products/services -- would bear the primary impact of the ABA
Recommendation if adopted by the federal courts.

West has carefully followed and commented on various proposals
for new caselaw citation systems as they have been raised, considered
and debated by the Judicial Conference and Committee during the
period 1990 through 1992, the American Association of Law Libraries,
the ABA and its Special Committee on Citation Issues, the Supreme
Courts of Louisiana, Colorado, Wisconsin, South Dakota and Maine,
various state bar associations and others. In fact, no other
interested party has followed these proceedings as closely, or
participated in them as extensively, as West. As a result, West
believes that it has a good deal of knowledge of and experience with
the related issues that can be helpful to the Judicial Conference and
Committee as they proceed to study and consider these issues again.
For instance, during the 1990-1992 consideration by the Committee and
Judicial Conference of the "Electronic Citation System" ("ECS")
proposal, West was particularly active in identifying issues,
providing relevant factual information and comments, and testifying.
West trusts that the Committee and Judicial Conference found this
input to be helpful during their earlier considerations. West
believes that it can be equally helpful now.

West also notes that, in the various considerations of new
caselaw citation systems identified above, West and its positions on
copyright and citation issues have consistently been criticized by
other participants, often based on misinformation regarding the true
facts or applicable law. Since this history is likely to repeat
itself during this inquiry, including during the hearing itself,
West also requests the opportunity to testify to correct such
misinformation. West believes it is very important for the Committee
and Judicial Conference to consider the ABA Recommendation in light
of the TRUE FACTS.

Dated: March 13, 1997.

Respectfully Submitted,

James E. Schatz

Plaza VII, Suite 3400
45 South Seventh Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Telephone: 612-344-9433
Facsimile: 612-344-9376



West Group ("West") submits these comments in response to the
notice published in Federal Register on February 21, 1997 by the
Judicial Conference of the United States ("Judicial Conference")
Committee on Automation and Technology ("Committee"). The Committee
seeks written public comments relative to the "ABA Citation
Resolution" (formally, 1996 ABA Recommendation 107 -- "ABA
Recommendation") regarding two subjects:

(1) Whether the federal courts should adopt the form of official
citation for court decisions recommended by the ABA
resolution; and

(2) The costs and benefits such a decision would have on the
courts, the bar and the public.

As a leading publisher of reports of federal court decisions in
its Supreme Court Reporter, Federal Reporter, Federal Supplement,
Bankruptcy Reporter, Federal Rules Decisions and U.S. Claims Court
Reporter publications, in its West CD ROM Libraries products and on
its WESTLAW online legal research service, among others, West is
vitally interested in and would be affected by -- and its customers
and other users of its products and services would be affected by --
any new citation system adopted by the federal courts. Further, West
has carefully followed and commented on various proposals for new
caselaw citation systems as they have been raised, considered and
debated by the Judicial Conference and Committee during the period
1990 through 1992, the American Association of Law Libraries, the ABA
and its Special Committee on Citation Issues, the Supreme Courts of
Louisiana, Colorado, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Maine and North Dakota,
various state bar associations and others. As a result, West has a
good deal of knowledge of and experience with the related issues that
can be helpful to the Judicial Conference and Committee as they
proceed to study and consider these issues again.

As West made clear during the 1990-1992 consideration by the
Committee and the Judicial Conference of the "Electronic Citation
System" ("ECS") proposal and relative to the other citation proposals
noted above, West generally doesn't believe that new caselaw citation
systems are necessary or would benefit the bench and bar. As
enumerated during the 1990-1992 ECS process, West believes that the
disadvantages resulting from the increased complexity and costs such
new citation systems would entail overwhelm any claimed advantages.
West's involvement with the foregoing proposals, and its experience
with the new citation systems that have been adopted in the States of
Louisiana, Colorado, South Dakota and Maine, have confirmed this
belief. However, West understands and appreciates the fact that
others have different views on the subject and that some state
jurisdictions have decided to implement new citation systems. West
believes that it is up to each jurisdiction to make its own decision
on what citation system to use based on the specific situation in
that jurisdiction.

When a new citation system has been adopted, West has reviewed
and considered the specific situation, the needs and concerns of the
customers and other users of its related products and services, and
the needs and concerns of the bench and bar in question, and has made
the changes in its editorial procedures, products and services that
it felt would best serve such needs and answer such concerns in
concert with what its customers were willing to support in terms of
additional editorial effort and features -- and thus cost. This has
generally meant that the new citations have been included in West
case reports as parallel citations and any numbering of paragraphs by
the courts has been reflected in West case reports. No other changes
generally have been made. West intends to continue with this policy
of individual review and consideration of citation developments to
determine what changes it will make.


From 1990 through 1992, the Committee considered a proposal to
implement ECS made by its Library Program Subcommittee. The Committee
reportedly made a recommendation to the Judicial Conference that ECS
be adopted in conjunction with -- and to support -- the development
and deployment of systems "to disseminate appellate court opinions
electronically." Standard Citation to Electronic Opinions, Revised
Draft Report (10/17/91), at p. 2. While not announced formally, it
was later reported that the ECS proposal was considered and rejected
by the Judicial Conference on September 22, 1992. See, e.g.,
"Judicial Conference Nixes Electronic Citation System" Leader's Legal
Tech Newsletter (Oct. 1992).

Subsequent to the rejection of the ECS proposal, the federal
judiciary continued to develop and deploy new computer systems to
disseminate circuit court opinions electronically. This program has
been successfully completed and all circuit courts now disseminate
their opinions electronically. The absence of ECS has not slowed or
otherwise jeopardized this program in any way.

While it reportedly rejected the ECS proposal by a large margin,
the Judicial Conference did allow individual federal courts to adopt
and use electronic citation systems if they so desired. The only
federal court to do so that West is aware of is the United States
Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ("Sixth Circuit") that, on
December 17, 1993, announced that, commencing on January 1, 1994, it
would begin adding electronic citations in the ECS format to its
opinions designated for publication for use as optional parallel
citations. Although the Sixth Circuit has continued to add ECS
citations to its opinions, there apparently has been little use of
these ECS citations as parallel citations or otherwise by either the
bar or by the Sixth Circuit itself (or any other court).

West concludes from the foregoing history that the vast majority
of federal courts do not think that electronic citations would be
beneficial. At least, few federal courts have adopted electronic
citation systems although the possibility has been open to them.
Moreover, as noted above, there has been little use made of the Sixth
Circuit's ECS citations by either the bench or bar. It seems
apparent, then, that there is no ground swell of support for
electronic citations at the federal level.


The ABA Recommendation, adopted at the August 1996 annual
meeting, calls for "All jurisdictions [to] adopt a system of official
citation to case reports that is EQUALLY EFFECTIVE for printed case
reports and for case reports electronically published on computer
disks or network services . . . ." ABA Recommendation at p. 1
(emphasis added). While West doesn't see a need for new citation
systems as discussed above, IF THEY ARE GOING TO BE ADOPTED, and a
few have been, West believes it is of utmost importance that they in
fact be "equally effective" for print AND electronic caselaw sources.

West further believes that in order for a new citation system to
be TRULY "equally effective" for print and electronic caselaw
sources, parallel citations to a print source must be required. If
this is not done, the new system would allow users of electronic
caselaw sources to DIRECTLY locate a cited case while forcing users
of print caselaw sources to perform an ADDITIONAL research step that
would be time consuming and therefore more expensive. To explain, a
citation such as "1996 5Cir 15" would allow a researcher to directly
locate the related case in most electronic sources by simply entering
the citation as a query; the result being the prompt appearance of
the case on the user's computer screen. In contrast, such a citation
would not inform a researcher in what volume or on what page of a
print source the case cited could be found. Instead, the print
researcher would have to access and use an additional intermediate
research tool -- a process that would take extra time and thus be an
additional expense -- that would be necessary to learn WHERE the case
with the "1996 5Cir 15" citation could be found in the print source.
Examples of such intermediate research tools are tables of cases
included in most digest products, Shepard's, Insta-Cite and Auto-
Cite. /1/ There can be no question that the forced use of such
additional research tools would be an added burden and expense.

Since those involved in the citation controversies agree that
the vast majority of legal researchers today (up to 80% of them)
still rely mainly or solely on print caselaw sources, it is not fair
to implement a new citation system that would disadvantage this
majority. /2/ A different situation may exist at some unknown -- and
presently unknowable -- point in the future, and, if so, a new rule
could be adopted at that point.

Moreover, West notes that citations to print caselaw sources are
commonly used in a wide variety of electronic caselaw sources. This
means that citations to print sources are not only useful in locating
caselaw in the print sources cited, but are also helpful in locating
caselaw in a wide variety of electronic services. As only some
examples of this wide use of citations to print sources (because
there are many, many others), case reports contained in the following
sources contain citations to print caselaw sources: WESTLAW, West CD-
ROM Libraries products, LEXIS, Michie CD-ROM products, Matthew Bender
Authority CD-ROM products and LOIS's (Law Office Information Service)
online service.

To make West's suggestion concrete, using the example given in
the ABA Recommendation at page 2, the new citation form would be as
follows (where a print citation is available) until future change in
the legal information marketplace indicates that a different citation
form should be used:

Smith v. Jones, 1996 5Cir 15, paragraph 18, 22 F.3rd 955

This result is consistent with ALL jurisdictions that have recently
adopted new citation systems, those jurisdictions being Louisiana,
Colorado, South Dakota, Maine and North Dakota. Louisiana has adopted
a new caselaw citation system based on the year of decision, docket
number and slip opinion pagination, together with a MANDATORY
parallel print citation. Order Regarding Citation of Louisiana
Appellate Decisions (LA 12/17/93). Although Colorado has not yet
implemented the paragraph numbering part of its new citation system,
its new system is based on an initial print citation plus paragraph
or page number pinpoint indicators. Memorandum Regarding Citation of
Electronically Reported Cases (CO 5/5/94). South Dakota (effective
January 1, 1996) and Maine and North Dakota (effective January 1,
1997) have adopted new citation systems based on the year of
decision, a new numbering scheme for cases and paragraph numbers as
pinpoint locators, together with MANDATORY parallel print citations.
In the Matter of the Adoption of a New Rule -- Rule 95-13 (SD
10/30/95); Order, Docket No. SJC-216 (ME 8/20/96); In the Matter of
Uniform, Medium-Neutral Case Citations, Order (ND 1/15/97). In EACH
of these situations, the court implementing the new system has
concluded that the new system would not work or be fair without the
MANDATORY use of parallel citations to print caselaw sources.

The history described above is consistent with the ABA
Recommendation which states at one point that courts should "STRONGLY
ENCOURAGE parallel citations . . . to commonly used printed case
reports" and indicates at another point that such parallel citations
should be MANDATORY -- i.e., "the standard form of citation, shown
for a decision in a federal court of appeals, SHOULD BE

Smith v. Jones, 1996 5Cir 15, paragraph 18, 22 F.3d 955."

ABA Recommendation at p. 1-2 (emphasis added). Further, the most
recent citation proposal that West knows of, made in Tennessee by the
Tennessee Bar Association on January 2, 1997, includes the following

When available, initial citations shall include the volume and
initial page number of the South Western Reporter in which the
opinion or decision is published.

Petition of Tennessee Bar Association for the Approval of Citation
System for Tennessee Appellate Decisions (TBA Link) at p. 8 (1/2/97).

In fact, the only recent proposal for a new caselaw citation
system that would not require the parallel citation of a print
caselaw source that has been considered and acted upon by a
jurisdiction is the system proposed in Wisconsin that has not been
adopted by that State's Supreme Court. In the Matter of Amendment of
Supreme Court Rules: Electronic Archive of Appellate Opinions, Rules
and Orders; Citation of Wisconsin Appellate Opinions -- SCR 80.01 and
80.02 -- Order #95-01 (5/24/95). West believes that there are very
good policy and practical reasons for the foregoing history.


For the many reasons discussed during the 1990-1992 ECS process,
West doesn't believe that new caselaw citation systems are needed or
would benefit the bench and bar, but does believe that the decision
of whether to implement a new caselaw citation system should be up to
each jurisdiction to make based on its particular situation. If the
Committee and Judicial Conference conclude that a new citation system
is necessary or advisable in the best interests of the federal bench
and bar, West strongly urges the Committee and Judicial Conference to
REQUIRE parallel citation of a print caselaw source in order that the
interests of ALL legal researchers and writers be EQUALLY served.

Dated: March 13, 1997 Respectfully Submitted,

James E. Schatz
Plaza VII, Suite 3400
45 South Seventh Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Telephone: 612-344-9433
Facsimile: 612-344-9376



/1/ West notes that Insta-Cite and Auto-Cite are solely
electronic services and Shepard's is increasingly becoming so. These
types of electronic sources are of no help to those, including
members of the public, without computers or who rely solely on print
research sources.

/2/ West notes that this majority includes those who, for
whatever reason, cannot afford computers or the use of electronic
caselaw sources, and who therefore must rely on the print caselaw
sources available for free use at thousands of public law libraries
across our country. This group often includes solo or small firm
practitioners and pro se litigants. These types of users should not
be disadvantaged.



March 14, 1997

ABA Citation Resolution
U.S. Judicial Conference
Washington, D.C.

For three generations, the courts of the United States have had
a semi-official printer, the West Publishing Company.

For many years, this system worked well. West produced court
decisions in an orderly format at no cost to the Federal government.
And the courts provided their opinions to West and cooperated in a
variety of other ways to facilitate that Company's publication
efforts. No one questioned the system, and most members of the bar
accepted West's semi-official status.

However, in the past decade, this cozy system has begun to break
down. The computer revolution brought new firms and new types of
publications into legal publishing. These included giant firms, such
as Lexis-Nexis, and small CD-ROM publishers, such as Hyperlaw, New
Ray Software, Tax Analysts.

These new entrants -- especially the CD-ROM publishers --
brought with them the prospect of lower prices and broader
availability for legal reference materials. But the efforts of these
new entrants have been largely thwarted by West Publishing's control
over the citation system used to identify judicial decisions.

This control has been asserted by West in a series of lawsuits
over the past decade, and through an intensified effort by West to
curry favor with Federal and state courts by a variety of means. See,
for example, "U.S. Justices Took Trips from West Publishing,"
Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 5, 1995, p. 1. The most recent
instance of such efforts is the gift by Dwight Opperman of West to
New York University Law School's Global Law Program for the benefit
of the children of West employees and Article III Federal judges.

The American Bar Association (ABA) has recently endorsed, by an
overwhelming majority, a proposal to develop a new public-domain
citation system that will replace the system over which West asserts
proprietary rights. The ABA proposal deserves, support by the U.S.
Judicial Conference.

The ABA proposal will undoubtedly foster competition in legal
publishing and thereby lower the prices charged by publishers for
legal texts.

At the same time, the ABA proposal will enable the courts to
make their opinions immediately available by electronic means with a
permanent citation. Thus, instead of waiting weeks or months for a
print citation to be assigned to a case, the courts themselves can
assign a citation that can thereafter be used by all publishers,
large and small, to identify cases.

In the past, the courts have been slow to respond to the
challenges and opportunities attributable to development of computer
technology and the Internet. I have been outspoken in urging the
courts to do better. See, for example, "Judicial Information Policy:
Whose Business Is It Anyway," reprinted in the Proceedings of the
National Conference on Legal Information Issues, (American
Association of Law Libraries Series No. 51), Fred B. Rothman & Co.,
Littleton, Colorado, 1996.

The ABA citation proposal is an opportunity for the courts to
begin to assert leadership in an important area that has been too
long neglected. The time for study and debate is past. The problems
in this area -- especially the competing claims of West and its
competitors -- have festered too long and have grown serious. The
courts need to assert their rightful role in helping to make the law
available to the public. Adoption of the ABA citation proposal would
be an important step in that direction.

Best regards,

Thomas F. Field
President and Publisher


11 March 1997

ABA Citation Resolution Committee.
Committee on Automation and Technology
Judicial Conference of the United States
Suite 4-512,
Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts,
Washington, DC 20544

SUBJECT: Public Domain Legal Citations.

Dear Members of the ABA Citation Resolution Committee:


From such a positive decision, the public would gain substantial
benefits of access and availability of legal texts.

At present, most federal court opinions are referred to by
researchers, scholars, and practicing lawyers by the volume number
and page numbers of paper bound court reporters sold by West
Publishing. West Publishing claims that it "owns" the citations to
the past 75 years of federal court opinions.

Many experts want the courts to adopt a public domain system for
citation to court opinions. Experts believe this is needed both to
end the West monopoly on court citations, and also to provide a more
modern form of citation that would work better with the Internet and
other forms of electronic publishing.

In July 1996, The ABA made its recommendation for a public
citation system. The ABA system was essentially the same as systems
recommended earlier by several state bar associations, as well as the
American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), the Department of
Justice (DoJ), the American Association of Legal Publishers (made up
of small high technology American legal publishers), and many
citizens groups, including the Consumer Project on Technology.

The ABA asked courts to adopt a standard from of citation that
would use the name of the case, the year, the court of jurisdiction,
a sequential number for the opinion, and a paragraph number for the
text. The main difference between this and the West Publishing
citation would simply be that the court would number its opinions and
the paragraphs within the opinion, so it would not have to rely upon
the West volume and page numbers. This would permit the citation to
be available the instant the opinion was released from the court, and
to be used by any publisher, and in any format displayed. This system
is as old as the Bible, which itself uses a system of paragraph
numbers. Paragraph numbering is also used by lawyers to identify the
text in court pleadings.

There is considerable resistance by some federal judges to the
implementation of the ABA recommendation. Federal judges and their
law clerks get unlimited access to Westlaw and Lexis at taxpayer
expense, so the problems caused by the West monopoly on citations
isn't always a pressing concern. Some judges think there is no need
for change from the status quo, and that it would be a costly burden
to number opinions and paragraphs. Many judges also do not believe
that anyone but lawyers are interested in reading court opinions.

I believe that it is inappropriate and not in the public
interest for a private entity, such as West Publishing, to "own"
citations to government documents.

Ordinary citizens care about access to court opinions. I can see
this on a daily basis, in my service as copyright officer at this
University, and in the federal publications depository collection and
regional federal information service operating from within the walls
of this academic library. Better access to legal information, through
consistent and inexpensive citations, would have positive effects in
terms of economic development and an informed and empowered

A less monopolistic system for legal citations is likely to
increase competition among legal publishers, and lower prices for

The courts should also do a better job making court information
available at low cost to taxpayers, who are expected to obey the law.

In this age of information technology, the courts should be
making use of the great opportunity to make all federal court
opinions available on the Internet, with citations that will permit
the public to uniquely and uniformly identify and cite an opinion.

Federal, state, and local governments are huge consumers of high
priced legal information, and that taxpayers will benefit from added
services and lower costs resulting from more competition for legal

Citizens, students, researchers, business persons benefit from
better access to the text of court opinions in this nation built on
the rule of law.


Steve Marquardt, Ph.D.
Dean of Libraries


Subject: Re: ABA citation method reform

Date: Sun, 9 Mar 1997 21:16:40 -0800 (PST)

From: Dana Barsish <>


West Publishing has in the past performed a great public
service, and profited handsomely as well. The tools are now at hand,
however, to do a better job at a far lower cost. Only competition can
reduce the cost of court record management and dissemination. Records
other than opinions can now be stored and indexed in a way not
dreamed of until recently. Allowing a public domain citation method
is only the first step.

My other concern is that West's strangehold on records has
allowed them to perpetrate some rather biased indexing of cases. Only
computer based text searches can locale all relevant case law at
times and at substantial cost. Most search tools on the internet are
free and access similar volumes of data.

I make these comments as a non-lawyer who has presented cases
before two courts of appeal here in Florida.


Author: Al Millstein<> at ~Internet

Date: 3/12/ 0 01:08 PM

Priority: Normal

BCC: citation at AO-OCPPO

TO: at ~Internet

CC: at ~Internet

Subject: ABA Citation Resolution

Message Contents

I am an attorney handling state court appointed criminal appeals
of indigent defendants.

I find it appalling that the Thomson/West publishing complex has
been permitted to monopolize vast areas of available case law

Those of us who do the kind of work I am engaged in are
financially at the mercy of a non-competitive system, and have little
control over the costs of research materials. We are paid very little
for important work; the quality of appeals, involving basic
constitutional rights of offenders is at issue.

It is my impression that the ABA proposal would expand the
availability of such resources, both with respect to ease of access
and cost.

Many, or most of us have acquired, or will acquire Internet and
online facilities; it would be short-sighted to restrict the
development of new systems of case law availability, or fail to keep
pace with the developing technology, as represented in the ABA plan.

Apart from the needs of such practitioners as myself, the
interest of the general public would be served by the increased
access to information. I believe the healthiest aspect of the
"information revolution" is the increased use and awareness by
citizens of hitherto unavailable resources.

Not the least of those affected are prisoners, who are in need
of better research resources, to pursue their own interests to which
they are entitled.

Attorney at Law
2715 Cadillac Tower
Detroit, MI 48226


Subject: Internet citation standards

Date: Mon, 03 Mar 1997 09:25:55 -0800

From: John Hearn <>


I am a sole practitioner in the state of South Carolina. I would
like to testify at the public hearing if possible.

As a young lawyer without a secretary, I depend on online
information systems to stay in business. My testimony would be brief,
about ten minutes. My focus would be narrow and would address the
benefits to our national jurisprudence uniform citation standards
would promote.

As a former editor of the ABA Real Property, Probate and Trust
Journal, I know first-hand the inherent problems of creating uniform
legal citation. My testimony will briefly explicate those problems
and describe how uniform standards would cure some of those problems.

My phone number is (803) 252-8381.

My FAX is (803) 252-6042.

Thank you.

John Hearn


Author: Jack Barnett <> at ~Internet

Date: 3/11/97 08:19 PM

Priority: Normal


TO: at ~Internet

Subject: West Publishing

Message Contents

I find it absolutely scandalous that West Publishing should be
able to hold public information such as court records and judicial
decisions hostage to a copyrighted indexing system. The following
excerpt from C/Net's article made my blood boil:

"In a March 5 special report the Minneapolis Star Tribune
reported that many top judges, including seven Supreme Court
justices, had accepted trips to exotic locales plus cash prizes from
West executives. Five court cases appealed to the Supreme Court in
previous years had been denied review, the paper reported. Also,
judges who had jurisdiction over West copyright cases accepted
freebies from the company, with one taking a $15,000 prize while
sitting on an a panel preparing an opinion in a West copyright
challenge, according to the Star Tribune.

"In its defense, a West spokeswoman told the newspaper the
company has done nothing illegal or improper and that its competitors
offer similar perks to judges, although the newspaper wrote it could
find no other company that sponsored cash awards."

These allegations, if true, amount to graft, fraud and the
embezzlement of the American system of justice, by the very people in
which we must place our confidence that the law is upheld! I think
"treason", "traitor" and "treachery" would have their place in this
case if the above statements are true.

I strenuously urge all involved parties to work to adopt the
public domain citation system proposed by the American Bar
Association, or some other open, non-proprietary system with all
deliberate haste. I feel that to do otherwise is to further erode the
American people's confidence and faith in our system of justice.
Without the people's confidence, there can be no justice; without
their consent, there can be no governance.

Jackson W. Barnett
Lake Pleasant, MA


Author: Lauren B Bergida <> at Internet

Date: 3/13/ 0 11:18 PM

Priority: Normal

BCC: citation at AO-OCPPO

TO: at Internet

Subject: Immediately available citations

To Whom It May Concern:

As a law student and future attorney, I endorse the new citation
system. I believe that it will be efficient, fair, and economical.
The multiple forms of citation that are currently usable are
unnecessarily confusing therefore use of the uniform West system has
become so widely accepted. But, their method is not the only method
that will provide uniformity, and ease of use. The new system will
provide needed uniformity and ease of use at a lower cost to users.
It should be adopted.

Lauren bergida


Subject: comments on a New Citation system

Date: Mon, 10 Mar 1997 11:23 -0800 (PST)

From: "Burt Knight" <>


As a former Guardian Ad Litem and former Law Student, and as a
former New Hampshire State Representative, I wholeheartedly support
the adoption of a public domain citation system. The current system
allows individuals and organizations to capitalize on what should be
Public Domain material and to have a 'lock' on the Market.

The proposed new system is far more logical and should be cost
effective as well as being simpler and easier for the layman to
understand. I think the cost savings should be fairly obvious with
the only groups negatively effected being the ones who are currently
making a profit from public domain material.

Burton W. Knight, II
572 S. Barnstead Rd.
S. Barnstead, NH 03225
(603) 269-2337


Author: (Elsa F. Kramer) at -Internet

Date: 3/13/0- 03:50 PM

Priority: Normal

BCC: citation at AO-OCPPO

TO: at -Internet

Subject: public domain legal citations

I am a self-employed writer and editor who frequently researches
legal issues. I have never been able to understand how one
company could claim as intellectual property the opinions of taxpayer-
supported courts. West may of course lay claim to its cumbersome
system of citation, and to its monopoly on the information it keeps
from journalists and others interested in the law but "unqualified"
to have access to the information.

Please, let the public have EASY access to public documents.
Please implement the ABA's recommendation for a new citation system.

Elsa F. Kramer



Date: Tue, 11 Mar 1997 08:57:33 -0600

From: "Bob Lake"

To: <>

The current citation system is ludicrous. While the work moves
to "open" standards, the most important information in our democracy
remains available only with the use of a "proprietary" access

Reform is needed immediately.

I have paid for the court's decisions to be made. I have a right
to access those without paying a third party for numbering the pages.

While West will unfortunately lose significant revenues, this is
the nature of progress. Buggy-whip manufacturers found other
products; West will do the same or meet the fate demanded in a
capitalistic system.

Robert C. Lake
Montgomery, Alabama

334 279-8185 (voice)


Author: "James E. Leinweber"

Date: 3/14/-0 09:08 AM

Priority: Normal

BCC: citation at AO-OCPPO

TO: at -Internet

Subject: support for ABA proposal for public domain citations of cour

I fully support the recent ABA proposal to move to a public
domain system of citations for court opinions, based on paragraph
numbering. This will provide a uniform system, aiding citizens
studying the legal system, academic research on legal issues, and
increasing access to legal documents by small businesses.

It is understandable that West Publishing is upset by the
potential harm to their current near-monopoly position providing
legal reporting services, but their private profit motives should be
entirely outweighed by the public interest in this case.

James E. Leinweber
Information Systems - State Laboratory of Hygiene - University of
<> 465 Henry Mall, Madison WIU 53706-1578 USA +1 608
262 0736


Subject: West Publishing

Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 20:54:52 -0800

From: Your Name Here <>


The cozy relationship between U.S. Supreme Court justices and
West Publishing is unseemly and embarrassing. I urge you and your
peers to do the right thing -- end West's monopoly and return court
opinions to the public domain. Only then will these documents be
freely disseminated, as you know they must.

Thank you.

Tim Leslie, Corvallis, Ore.


Author: "JUHA MAKIPAA" <> at Internet

Date: 3/11/97 02:39 AM

Priority: Normal


TO: at Internet

Subject: Court papers on Internet

I support making the decisions of courts available free to
anyone on the Internet. I also vote in every election.

Mr. Juha O. Makipaa
5 Charlotte Road
Fishkill, NY 12524


Subject: Support for revision of citation system

Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 21:05:41 -0700

From: Lyle
Organization: Unorganized


To Whom It May Concern:

I fully support the ABA proposal to the U.S. Judicial Conference
to completely revise the citation system for cases.

West continues to argue that their pagination system is
protected by copyright. West's pending merger with Thompson only
allows zero-fee license for use of their system for four years, then
fees resume (if copyright is upheld).

This situation is denying the public free access to the courts
and should not be allowed to continue. The proposed change would
effectively end West's monopoly on US court citations and allow all -
legal as well as general public -- access, as its should be.

I am not a lawyer, yet I try to read as many court cases as I
can. The current monopoly severely restricts my access to caselaw. I
cannot afford to subscribe to Westlaw, nor do I like the fact that I
must pay, through my taxes, for judges to get access to data paid for
by the American people.

Please adopt the ABA proposal and put the caselaw back into the
hands of those that have paid for it: The Public!

Lyle McBroom
d160 Shelter Valley
Kalispell, MT 59901


Subject: Hearing on West Publishing

Date: Tue, 11 Mar 1997 17:46:00 -0700

From: Cheryl Post <>

To: "U.S. Courts" <>

As a private citizen and a paralegal, I whole-heartedly support
the proposal to implement court citations and on-line access of court
opinions, and end the monopoly by West Publishing on access to these
documents. They are indeed a monopoly, and their rates have risen
dramatically in the last several years, including yet another rise in
the last few months. One on-line transaction now costs $20-70,
depending on the database used, and general searches are billed as
high as several dollars per minute. Special software is required
that can be obtained only from West. Printing an opinion is an
additional charge per page. Not only is the public essentially
excluded from access, but if they hire an attorney, they are forced
to pay these prices and pass them on to their clients. Charges can
run in the hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars, and all for
public records to which the public should have unlimited access.

While I realize that many U.S. Courts are publishing their
opinions on the Net, the system is sporadic at best, and lacks
citations and other needed information. Not all U.S.S.C. opinions are
on-line, and each Circuit Court differs on if and how they put their
opinions on-line, as well as how far back they go and how long the
opinions remain on-line. The state courts are even more dissimilar in
their sites.

The Courts have addressed just about every other monopoly but
their own and that of West Publishing. With the public accessibility
of so much information on the internet, the opinions of the court
should join the parade. We live in an age of information, and access
is critical. The public pays for the judicial system through their
taxes, and these are public documents. They should be available to
the public without having to pay the exorbitant rates charged by

I urge you to end this monopoly and pursue the ABA
recommendations to put these opinions in the public domain.


Subject: Email Comments on Public Domain Citations to Judicial

Date: Sat, 8 Mar 1997 12:02:24 -0800 (PST)

From: Jeffrey Price <>


Chair, Judge Edward Nottingham, District Court, CO
Judge Richard Nygaard 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Erie, PA
Judge Paul Barbadaro, District Court, NH
Judge James Robertson, District Court for DC
Judge Roger Strand, District Court, Phoenix, AZ
Judge Franklin Waters, District Court, Fayetteville, AR
Magistrate Judge David Baker, Orlando, FL

(1) Whether the federal courts should adopt the form of official
citation for court decisions recommended by the ABA resolution?


I believe the federal courts should adopt the citation form
suggested by the ABA for the following reasons

a) It is inappropriate for a private company to have total
control over my access to public documents. This flies in the face of
the very term "public" and the needs of a well informed citizen.

b) I cannot afford to subscribe to a Westlaw or a Lexis data
base to find out what a court has to say about a particular subject
of interest to me.

c) I believe in free enterprise; the standardization of opinions
will allow more competition in the marketplace, a free flow of
information, and promote a greater understanding of the judicial

d) Its my tax dollars at work in the courts, I do not get to
vote on the federal judge who sits in "my" court, but a company like
West gets to freeload off my tax dollar and I get no say. This is
simply wrong.

(2) The costs and benefits such a decision would have on the
courts, the bar, and the public.

I can't talk much about the costs to the courts, but if they are
anything like my business, they already computerize the opinions. I
cannot see how it can be very expensive to simply have the support
staff who type up opinions to simply use a template to enter opinions

Is there any federal judge out there who types his or her own
opinions AND edits them AND THEN sends them out with nobody on staff
having anything to do with them? If so, then perhaps that judge might
be inconvienced by having to learn a new format. But I suggest that
his or her inconvenience while travelling a short (6 months?)
learning curve is a very small price to pay.

Finally, why is it better to pinpoint a citation to a page (a la
West) than to a specific paragraph? As a history scholar I find
biblical citations much easier to locate than legal ones.

Thank you,

Jeffrey Lee Price
University of Idaho


Subject: court opinions belong in the public domain

Date: Thu, 13 Mar 1997 01:20:04 -0800

From: ricallan <>


do you wonder why americans are increasingly disenchanted by their
government? well, look no further than your own docket: money and
gifts to the federal judiciary. first disillusionment in the congress
and presidency. now we find that the last bastion of our justice
system has been corrupted. heaven help what's left of america and
shame on everyone involved who doesn't do everything they can to at
least place court opinions in the public domain.


Author: Time Rice <> at -Internet

Date: 3/11/0 01:04 PM

Priority: Normal

BCC: citation at AO-OCPPO

To: at -Internet

Subject: West Law Numbering System

To Whom It May Concern,

I was shocked to learn the depth of West Laws strangle hold on a
public database of documents. For any one company to have that much
control over documents that are REQUIRED READING for every legal
professional and private citizen alike is unacceptable. Court
documents are public, by law. I, as a private citizen, should have
free access to them. They effect my life, they govern what may happen
to me in court some day, and I am held responsible for knowing the
law (ignorance is NOT an excuse.) Why should I be required to PAY
someone $4 PER MINUTE for a search of PUBLIC documents? If the
documents are public domain, the numbering/indexing system should
also be public domain.

Timothy R. Rice (John Q. Public)
Network Systems Analyst
Department of Medicine
Duke University Medical Center


Subject: ABA Citation Resolution

Date: Fri, 14 Mar 1997 12:26:31 -0800

From: "Roger D. Rines"


ABA Citation Resolution
Suite 4-512
Administrative Office of the U.S.
Courts, Washington, DC 20544

Dear members of the U.S. Judicial Conference:

I write to urge the United States Judicial Conference to adopt a
public domain citation for judicial opinions.

The purpose of the Courts must be service to the public. This
can only be achieved when citations are listed as public domains.

Costly impediments to public access to our courts by unnecessary
monopolistic fees is clearly open extortion. Please get the bullies
away from our court doors and give everyone equal access.

I therefore urge the Judicial Conference to adopt a system of
public domain citations to court opinions.


Roger D. Rines
San Jose, CA


Author: Catherine Roth

Date: 3/11/0 06:13 PM

Priority: Normal

BCC: citation at AO-OCPPO


Subject: ABA Uniform Citation Proposal

As a law student I have always wondered why there was not a
uniform citation system that was realistically usable, unlike the
Bluebook current taught. I think the proposed ABA system would
provide a workable format that academics and practitioners could use
and avoid the hapharzard method of citation I find more often than
not. Change is definitely need and this proposal deserves your
affirmative endorsement. Thank you for taking time to read my

Catherine Roth
Washington University School of Law


Author: Catherine Roth

Date: 3/11/0 06:13 PM

Priority: Normal

BCC: citation at AO-OCPPO


Subject: ABA Uniform Citation Proposal

As a law student I have always wondered why there was not a
uniform citation system that was realistically usable, unlike the
Bluebook current taught. I think the proposed ABA system would
provide a workable format that academics and practitioners could use
and avoid the hapharzard method of citation I find more often than
not. Change is definitely need and this proposal deserves your
affirmative endorsement. Thank you for taking time to read my

Catherine Roth
Washington University School of Law


Subject: Court Cases belong to the Public

Date: Fri, 14 Mar 1997 14:22:23 -0500

From: Anant Sahai <>


CC: sahai@mit.edc

As an American Citizen who uses the internet, I find it hard to
believe that the US Government permits Court Cases to be copyrighted
documents that we must pay to access. There is a substantial public
interest in all ordinary citizens having access to these cases --
which serve to define the very laws applying to them. They also need
to be able to freely quote and distribute this information to others.

Today, with the Internet's low costs of distribution, it is not
an unreasonable burden to put up web sites containing all these
documents. The public interest must be served.

-Anant Sahai


Author: Ian Schindler <> at -Internet

Date: 3/14/0 11:43 AM

Priority: Normal

BCC: citation at AO-OCPPO

TO: at -Internet

Subject: court records

I don't understand how you can even consider maintaining the
West monopoly on court opinions in place.

The future of all information distribution is the web, and all
US public information should be available on the internet for a
nominal fee.

Justice begins with openness. Making the US public pay
outrageous fees to understand its own judicial system is scandalous.


Ian Schindler PhD.


Author: Caryl Lynn Segal

Date: 03/12/97 07:40 AM

Priority: Normal


TO: at -Internet


I firmly believe that the ABA citation recommendations should be

As a teacher with no law library readily accessible, having
opinions available electronically means that my students are kept up
to date on matters that have an effect upon them or the topic we are

As an author and researcher this is invaluable to me.

Of greater importance is the fact that the public can get the
complete reasoning behind decisions that might appear controversial
and not be dependent upon the media's interpretation.

Thank you,

Caryl Lynn Segal Telephone 817-272-3880
University of Texas at Arlington Fax: 817-794-5673
Criminal Justice Department
Arlington, TX 76019-0595 Email:

"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves or we know
where we can find information upon it." Samuel Johnson 1709-1784


Subject: online court opinions

Date: Tue, 11 Mar 1997 10:00:45 -0400

From: LeAnn Mynatt <>


I strongly think court opinions should be accessible online --
free -- to the public. It's time for West's monopoly to be broken.

LeAnn Mynatt


Author: Dean Robb <> at Internet

Date: 3/13/0 08:31 PM

Priority: Normal

BCC: citation at AO-OCPPO

TO: at Internet

Subject: Westlaw Copyright commentary

It is contrary to the very concept of a free nation to charge
for access to open court documents and decisions. What West is doing
is the equivalent of selling tickets to sit in the gallery during a
trial. Currently, unless one is present in person or watches the
entire proceedings on Court TV, one cannot know of judicial decisions
and actions that could affect them . . . yet they are expected to act
as if they are aware.

Imagine the outcry if the public were forced to pay for the
privilege of knowing what Congress does . . . or their State
legislature . . . or their City Council. In the end, it comes down to
precedence: does West's right to make money outweigh the right of the
citizen to access public information in a free society?


Subject: Uniform Citation System Comments

Date: Thu, 06 Mar 1997 19:53:16 -0600

From: jay nixon <>

Organization: execpc


If the "deficite hawks" in the government ever learned how much
our agencies could save on book costs with public domain case law
this proposal would go through in no time. It's just counter
intuitive to think that the work product of tax payer supported
courts could be owned by anyone other than the public! Please
expedite approval of this proposal. Thank you, Jay K. Nixon, Attorney
at Law. 414-633-3090.


Subject: New citation system

Date: Mon, 10 Mar 1997 22:01:59 -0800

From: "Daniel G. Newman" <>


I am writing in favor of the proposed new citation system that
would be in the public domain. I am a graduate student at the
University of California at Berkeley. Though I rarely use legal
materials myself, I think it is outrageous that a private firm (West
Publishing) controls how cases are cited. As a student and taxpayer,
I would welcome the increased access to legal information that a
public domain citation system would bring.

Respectfully submitted,

Daniel Newman
2039 Shattuck Ave. Suite 403
Berkeley, CA 94704


Subject: Free public domain system

Date: Mon, 10 Mar 1997 23:43:22 -0500

From: Marvin Balogh <"">


This is outrageous. Why we the people allow this to go on. These
are public records and should have the freedom of information use and
not be restricted because some one has a copyright on the numbering
system, Preposterous. Skewered Tax payer as usual.


Subject: Public Access to Court Citations

Date: Sat, 15 Mar 1997 10:18:48 -0800 (PST)

From: Mark Allyn 206-860-9454



I am in favor of public domain access to citations of U.S. court

I think that a private monopoly on U.S. court citations held by
a foreign firm is very inappropriate. There should not even be a
suggestion that court citations should be held by a private company.

Further, I think that information on all federal court cases
should be publicly available on the Internet. We as taxpaying
citizens have already paid for this information; why should we have
to pay for it again.

Please ignore the letters from the federal judges who oppose to
the free and public access to information to federal court cases.

Thank you.

Truly yours,

Mark Allyn
1161 21st Ave E
Seattle, Wa 98112


Subject: Proposed Public Domain Citation Form

Date: Tue, 11 Mar 1997 07:25:55 -0800

From: "B.J.T" <>

Organization: Law Office of B.J. Jeanie Thompson


I believe the federal courts should adopt the form of official
citation for court decisions recommended by the ABA resolution.

A new system of citation will have the effect of making access
to court opinions more affordable for me, a solo practitioner, whose
middle class clientele struggles to afford legal services.

B. Jean Thompson
Attorney at Law
7705 La Cosa Drive, Suite 100
Dallas, Texas 75248


Subject: Adoption of Uniform Method of Citation

Date: Sat, 01 Mar 1997 11:25:43 -0800

From: "Lisa A. Runquist"

Organization: Runquist & Associates


I understand that you are interested in obtaining comments from
practitioners concerning the possible adoption of a uniform method of
citation, such as the one that has been proposed by the American Bar
Association. Such a method of citation would make the ability to
research cases through electronic means, including the internet, much
easier, faster, and cheaper.

As an attorney who has been practicing for 20 years, of which 15
have been in a partnership, as a sole practitioner, and as a small
firm (2-3 attorneys), I am strongly in favor of such a proposal.
Although I still personally prefer reading the cases in book format,
I cannot afford that luxury. Perhaps large firms can still afford the
cost of the books as well as the space to maintain them, but for solo
and small firm practitioners, the electronic method of research is
the only one that is financially feasible.

Thank you for your attention to and consideration of this

Very truly yours,

Lisa A. Runquist
Runquist & Associates
10821 Huston St.,
North Hollywood, CA 91601
(818) 760-8986
fax (818) 760-8314


Subject: [Fwd: ABA Uniform Citation Proposal [62 Fed. Reg. 8037,

Date: Thu, 13 Mar 1997 07:04:33 -0800

From: "Wade B. Perry, Jr." <>


Subject: ABA Uniform Citation Proposal [62 Fed. Reg. 8037, 2/21/97]]

Date: Tue, 11 Mar 1997 22:36:18 -0800

From: "Wade B. Perry, Jr." <>


I am an attorney in a private practice firm of 25 attorneys in
Mobile, Alabama. I have practiced law for 25 years in Alabama,
including 3 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorn There are probably 10
attorneys in my firm who are exceedingly computer literate and share
my views set out hereinbelow.

I favor the ABA proposal for a number of reasons. First and
foremost, it is my firml held conviction that public access to public
documents should not be impeded in any In an age of electronic
publishing, when the internet is growing geometrically, this means
nothing less than making available instantaneous public access to
court decisi via the internet and in a form requiring a minimum of
user investment and a minimum utilization of paper resources. More
fundamentally, this opinion grows out of a view that the free
interchange of ideas is a paramount value in any age, and in a
technologically advanced age, it calls for measures of the sort I
advocate here.

Moreover, while as a lawyer I suppose I have a vested interest
in keeping this "powe of access to court decisions away from the
general public so as to best protect the value of my law license, I
believe we all benefit by the mass availability of this m fundamental
tool of our trade. Members of the general public who vote for and
elect state court judges as we do in Alabama ought to be able without
undue obstacles to b able to search and review the written product of
the candidate.

Finally, even for a lawyer the economics of the matter cry out
for a solution. Next rent (which includes the cost of space for
library materials), the library is the largest expenditure in our
firm's annual budget. With the advent of desktop computer our firm
and CD ROM capability, a trip to the firm library is fast becoming a
thing the past. The cost of West published CD ROM opinions is
considerable, and even more expensive is the cost of computerized on-
line access to recent opinions not yet available in CD ROM format.
Why not make available these opinions instantaneously in electronic
form, with the rudimentary, yet functional, indexing scheme suggested
in ABA proposal?

I respectfully urge the adoption of a free public domain system
of the type proposed the ABA plan referenced above.

Wade B. Perry, Jr.
P.O. Box 1988
Mobile, AL 36633
Phone: (334) 441-9238 or 432-7682
Fax: 432-2800


Subject: Public Domain Citation Proposal

Date: Fri, 14 Mar 1997 11:01:02 -0500 (EST)



Dear Sir/Madam:

I am writing in support of the ABA's public domain citation

As a small firm attorney, I must constantly keep my eye on the
costs of maintaining a law office library. I have long looked at
electronic research as a means for reducing my costs (and those of my

If I can use electronic research, I can save a great deal of
time, a saving that is passed along to clients. This is especially
true of materials that I DO NOT have in my library, and which I must
travel considerable distances to locate in a law library.

A uniform method of public domain citation is useful not only
to enable those of us in small firms to save time and money for
research, but it will also greatly help lawyers and judges who are
READING briefs.

Instead of pulling out a book, locating the page, and then
searching (sometimes in vain!) for the particular paragraph or
sentence cited, imagine the ease with which one could find the
referenced material if one could simply type the citation into the
computer and be brought immediately to the precise location in the

It is easy to understand why publishers would oppose the ABA's
proposal. I cannot, however, fathom why any lawyer or judge would
oppose it. The practice of law; the art of judging, and the public
interest would all be served.

Very truly yours,

Joanne C. Fray
Law Offices of Joanne C. Fray
1620 Massachusetts Avenue
Lexington, MA 02173
(617) 861 7195
fax (617) 861 6580


Subject: Comments on ABA proposal for public domain citation

Date: Fri, 14 Mar 1997 14:53:16 -0600

From: "James Y. Bryce" <>



To: The United States Judicial Conference

BACKGROUND: The American Bar Association has proposed that
citation to legal authority be through a system designed for computer
storage, search, and retrieval. The ABA has also proposed that such
system be clearly divorced from any means of citation that may be
alleged to be the intellectual property of any commercial entity.

STANDING: As a member of the Texas bar for twenty-seven years,
as a member of the United States Supreme Court bar for twenty-four
years, and as a recognized authority on computer communication
systems, I strongly support the position of the ABA.

Years ago while I was in law school I found it ludicrous that
our courts would allow a single commercial entity to effectively own
public information. In recent times I have even found clerks of court
asserting that opinions would not be released to the public over the
Internet until several days after they were provided to commercial

OPINION: In my opinion this view of ownership in public
information is not only unethical and wrong, it is illegal. I also
consider the assertion by a commercial entity that a volume and page
number system is protected by intellectual property law flies in the
face of the legal, ethical, and academic requirement to cite all my
sources. In fact, to fail to so cite may give rise to allegations of
plagiarism and even fraud. Now it appears that opponents will assert
citations, tabular cross references, and searching methods will
violate their rights.

Members of the Judicial Conference, that dog won't hunt.

REQUESTS: I request that the United States Judicial Conference
act in support of the American Bar Association and establish a public
domain citation system structured to integrate well into modern
computing and communications systems.

I also request that the United States Judicial Conference act to
oppose any and all attempts by any and all entities, commercial or
otherwise, to assert intellectual property rights in means of
citation that would restrict, tax, charge fees for, or otherwise
increase the burden of use for any and all court, regulatory,
legislative, or other public documents.

I stand ready to offer the services of my knowledge and
experience in these matters.

James Y. Bryce
Attorney at Law

ISDN 512 377-4225
6103 Shoal Creek Boulevard
Austin, Texas 78757-3129
FAX 512 454-4060
Voice 512 454-6788


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