Public Information

Public Access 'Robin Hood' Wants Case Law Free


Public information crusader Carl Malamud is the latest of a growing number of individuals who are looking for a way to make court decisions more accessible to the general public.

At his site, public.resource.org, Malamud plans to post case law previously only available in law libraries or through subscription services such as Thomson West and LexisNexis, the New York Times reports.

In a letter (PDF) to West last week, Malamud notes that he isn’t trying to compete with commercial vendors who “perform a worthy service for the large law firms and other well-funded institutions.” Rather, Malamud wrote that he wishes to make information available to the general public.

“Codes and cases are the very operating system of our nation of laws, and this system only works if we can all openly read the primary sources,” he wrote.

The Times, which characterized Malamud as a “self-styled Robin Hood of the information age,” reports that Malamud is using advanced computer scanning technology to copy the decisions and has already posted 1,000 pages of court decisions from the 1880s on his site.

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