Monthly Archives: June 2013

Digitization of more AG reports, and notes

Digitization isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but when you’re interested in records of note that are openly accessible only in paper form, it’s necessary.  We continue to plod away, and if you pop over to our Executive page, you’ll see that we’re up to six years (1998-2003) of Annual Reports of the Attorney General of Virginia (which each include the final copies of official opinions issued during that year, along with other information about the Office of the Attorney General).

We’ve expressed interest to certain relevant officials in digitizing volumes of Virginia appellate case law.  Although these cases are available, digitization of the official reporters would provide free, ready access to the final, official copies of the relevant opinions.  We’ve not yet gotten a response.

We’ve also approached certain local judicial officials about circuit court opinions and are sorry to report that it is not clear progress is being made in obtaining those important judicial records so as to enable public access to them.  We suspect that, in the end, it may take a legislative change to push circuit courts to make their opinions freely and readily available to the public.

 

SCOTUS v. SCV on key records

We’ve been away for a while — a bit of a summer hiatus.  We’ll try to ramp it back up.

With all eyes on the SCOTUS this week, it may be a good time to emphasize contrast between the SCOTUS and the Supreme Court of Virginia.  In some aspects of the comparison, the SCV comes out extremely well (e.g., case load, succinctness and understandability of opinions), but there are also areas where the SCOTUS puts the SCV to shame.

First, if you want actual, usable copies of the official “U.S.” case reporter, SCOTUS has more than 50 volumes ready for access/download.  By contrast, the SCV offers only slip opinions, with no access to the official “Va.” reporter.  We’ll return to this subject at a later date.

Second, the briefs are critical to understanding cases before an appellate court.  Via link to the ABA website, the SCOTUS website offers online access to current merits briefs.  The SCV has merits briefs in electronic form already but refuses to share them outside the Court (even with other Commonwealth public bodies).

And third, on oral argument, SCOTUS has a remarkable, invaluable audio history, and they keep it up to date.  According to the Oyez Project, by way of our idols at SCOTUSblog,

The Court releases all of its audio recordings, including opinion announcements, to NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) around the start of the subsequent term in October. Announcement audio does not appear on the Court’s website and is only accessible via NARA. Oyez will typically have the recordings available a week or so after the start of the Term.  [SCOTUSblog Live Blog 6/10/2013.]

At the Supreme Court of Virginia, not only do they not release audio recordings, they intentionally, systematically destroy them.