Open Government 2.0: Google to make legal opinions available
Here's some really positive news for people that care about transparency and open government. Google is going to make legal decisions publicly accessible:
Starting today, we're enabling people everywhere to find and read full text legal opinions from U.S. federal and state district, appellate and supreme courts using Google Scholar. You can find these opinions by searching for cases (like Planned Parenthood v. Casey), or by topics (like desegregation) or other queries that you are interested in. For example, go to Google Scholar, click on the “Legal opinions and journals” radio button, and try the query separate but equal. Your search results will include links to cases familiar to many of us in the U.S. such as Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education, which explore the acceptablity of “separate but equal” facilities for citizens at two different points in the history of the U.S. But your results will also include opinions from cases that you might be less familiar with, but which have played an important role.
As it stands now, if you want legal opinions you often have to use Nexis or Westlaw — services that cost alot of money and aren't particularly user friendly. If past is prologue, Google will no doubt do a better job presenting this information and they will provide it for free.