Next time you say, “well, he must be guilty of something …”: Your Worst Nightmare

ABA Journal magazine: Prisoner exonerations are at an all-time high, and it’s not because of DNA testing,” by Kevin Davis, September 1, 2014.

‘…. And even when he was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison, Awe continued to hold out hope that someone would get to the bottom of this mess.

“I suffered from the delusion that innocent people get to go home,” says Awe, who served nearly all three years before being exonerated. “I thought at some point someone would do an investigation. I never gave up hope even after being convicted.” [Link to full article.]

National Registry of Exonerations and Center on Wrongful Convictions

Updates (and venting) on PACER and AOC Removal of Court Documents

Major hat tips to the law librarian community for these updates!

If you want to vent, here are some who got there before you (as of this morning, 8/27/14):

1) US courts trash a decade’s worth of online documents, shrug it off: Ars technica article

2) ”The federal judiciary this month removed years of court records from its online archives, drawing concern from attorneys, journalists, researchers and open-record advocates who rely on remote access to files.

Court files that are no longer available on PACER include cases from the U.S. courts of appeals for the Second, Seventh, Eleventh and Federal circuits. Details about the cases that were removed are here.

Want to access a case filed in the Second Circuit before Jan. 1, 2010? You now must send an email or written request to the court clerks office to obtain the records. The cost: $30 for the entire file, which will be sent by email. (PACER costs are 10 cents per page. Opinions, however, are free.)

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts released a statement Tuesday that said a change was made to the PACER architecture to prepare for the implementation of the Next Generation of the Judiciary’s Case Management/Electronic Case Files System. NextGen replaces the older CM/ECF system and provides improvements for users, including a single sign-on for PACER and NextGen.

“As a result of these architectural changes, the locally developed legacy case management systems in four courts of appeal and one bankruptcy court are now incompatible with PACER, and therefore the judiciary is no longer able to provide electronic access to the closed cases on those systems,” the Administrative Office statement said. “The dockets and documents in these cases can be obtained directly from the relevant court.”

3) Read more, National Law Journal article: Read more: “PACER Changes Draw Ire of Attorneys, Journalists,” by Todd Ruger, Legal Times, August 26, 2014 (Google national law journal pacer if that link doesn’t work for you.)

4) “[S]ome filings no longer on PACER are still available via Bloomberg Law. Select others are available on Westlaw…. Based on my testing this morning on Bloomberg Law, you can no longer update dockets for matters removed from PACER without a courier dispatch. And you can not get docket documents that have never been viewed (the green hyperlinks for those of you familiar with Bloomberg Law) without a courier dispatch. But for items that have been accessed before (the blue hyperlinks), the PDF of the file remains.”

It’s not all online, folks: PACER Removes Many Federal Court Documents

So allow extra time for locating the documents you need. And remember, Time = Money.

No longer available on PACER:

As of August 10, 2014 the following information will no longer be available on PACER:

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit: Cases filed prior to January 1, 2010
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit: Cases filed prior to CM/ECF conversion
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit: Cases filed prior to January 1, 2010
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit: Cases filed prior to March 1, 2012
U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California: Cases filed prior to May 1, 2001

For further information please contact the court directly. Contact information for each court is available on the Court Locator page.” [Link to PACER announcement.]

Link Rot (404/File Not Found) Symposium: October 24, 2014

Symposium: 404/File Not Found: Link Rot, Legal Citation and Projects to Preserve Precedent:

“The Web is fluid and mutable, and this is a “feature” rather than a “bug”. But it also creates challenges in the legal environment (and elsewhere) when fixed content is necessary for legal writers to support their conclusions. Judges, attorneys, academics, and others using citations need systems and practices to preserve web content as it exists in a particular moment in time, and make it reliably available.

On October 24, 2014 Georgetown University Law Library in Washington, D.C. will host a symposium that explores the problem of link and reference rot.” [Link to symposium website.]

Laughing Darkly: Human Frailty, Animal Comfort, Regulatory Food for Thought

Justice Bedsworth, in A Criminal Waste of Space, August 2014:

“Deciding Between Comfort Animals and Comfort Food,” by Justice William W. Bedsworth

Excerpt: “Edward O. Wilson is a biologist. A very perceptive biologist. He sums up the human condition this way, “We have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and god-like technology.”

No one who has spent even five minutes marveling at Facebook posts or deciphering Twitter feeds or counseling someone whose Instagram has come back to haunt him can doubt the accuracy of that observation.

And it occurs to me that there are few areas of human endeavor in which its application seems more ubiquitous than our relationships with animals. Especially when we try to write laws and regulations dealing with animals.

We love animals. But it’s a problematic usage of the word ‘love.’...” [Link to full Justice Bedsworth August 2014 Criminal Waste of Space column.]

If you’re ever inclined to comment on proposed federal regulations, visit Regulations dot gov.

To comment on proposed Oregon administrative rules, visit the Secretary of State’s OAR websites and then visit the Agency’s website where they presumably have posted Rules for Comment information. See, for example: DPSST ADMINISTRATIVE RULES


Rotten World of Legal Citation: Link Rot and Reference Rot

Excerpt: “Rotten World of Legal Citation,” July 31st, 2014 by sadavis:

In the past few years, the issue of link rot has become a growing concern in relation to broken links in legal citations, most notably in U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Two articles that discuss this problem in detail are:

1) Raizel Liebler & June Liebert, Something Rotten in the State of Legal Citation: The Life of a United States Supreme Court Citation Containing an Internet Link (1996-2010), 15 Yale J.L. & Tech. 273 (2013). Available at (finding that 29% of websites cited in US Supreme Court opinions no longer worked);

2) Jonathan Zittrain, Kendra Albert & Lawrence Lessig, Perma: Scoping and Addressing the Problem of Link and Reference Rot in Legal Citations, 127 Harv. L. Rev. F. 176 (2014). Available at (finding that 49.9% of websites cited in US Supreme Court opinions and 29.9-34.2% cited in three law reviews no longer linked to the originally cited material – at 180, 186).... [Link to full Rotten World blog post.]

Wikipedia: Link Rot

Free Exercise of Religion by Closely Held Corporations: Implications of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (CRS Report)

Free Exercise of Religion by Closely Held Corporations: Implications of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.,” by Cynthia Brougher, Legislative Attorney
July 23, 2014.

Hat tip to BeSpacific.

Access to Justice? “Change afoot in American civil justice system” (Legal Rebels)

“Change afoot in American civil justice system,” Jul 22, 2014, by Rebecca Love Kourlis (former justice of the Colorado Supreme Court).

“…. Due process in the American civil justice system is like sweet green grass: It is essential to our lifeblood, but too much can be deadly. Beginning in 2008, the profession began to sound the alarm that the civil justice system was indeed in danger of foundering. The ABA Section of Litigation was part of that chorus. More than 3,000 members of the section participated in a survey (PDF), which found that:

  • Litigation is too expensive (81 percent).
  • Because of those costs, smaller cases are not litigated and access is denied (82 percent).
  • Litigation costs are not proportional to the value in a small case (89 percent) nor even to the value in a large case (40 percent).
  • The cost of litigation forces cases to settle that should not settle based on the merits (83 percent)

.” [Link to full article.]

For more Access to Justice (A2J, aka ATJ) news, visit Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice blog.