Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Better Access to Court Opinions: GPO Announces Pilot

Today, the Government Printing Office (GPO), through its digital printing arm, FDSys announced a pilot project in twelve Federal Courts to publish electronic court opinions.  Read the announcement here (pdf) [update: here's the announcement from the U.S. Courts website, with links].

Court opinions are already available from the courts' websites, and -- for those with an access account -- from PACER, the Federal courts' electronic filing system.  The difference now, presumably, is that GPO will introduce some uniformity to the electronic format for published court opinions.

That is a good thing.  Even better, will be for these opinions to include metadata about the document structure.  As I discussed yesterday, most court opinions today are published online in pdf format scrambling much of the information about document structure, and losing much of the value from publishing in an electronic form.