Midyear Meeting

ABA Supports Uniform Law for Online Publication of Court Decisions and Laws

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The ABA House of Delegates has approved a resolution supporting the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act governing the authentication and preservation of laws, court decisions and other legal materials published online.

Resolution 102B supporting the model law was approved on a voice vote, though a significant number of delegates voted nay.

Speaking in favor of the model law was former ABA executive director Robert Stein, the immediate past president of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.

Stein said the act, promulgated by NCCUSL last year, does not address specifics of technology to be used because it is always evolving. States enacting the model law would designate a publisher that would look at best practices in other jurisdictions before deciding on the methods that would be used.

“What effect does this have on the so-called digital divide?” Stein asked. “I would submit that this doesn’t exacerbate that problem but may in fact diminish it.” The model law provides that states should offer public access to online legal materials, he said. “We think this promotes public access.”

Former ABA President Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte spoke in opposition. He said “guts” of the uniform act “simply don’t establish standards.” He also criticized a reciprocity provision that requires recognition of online materials authenticated by other states.

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