This week Publc.Resource.org announced a new initiative to make caselaw available for free on the web: In Re: State and Federal Cases and Codes
The goals of this project are:
The short-term goal is the creation of an unencumbered full-text repository of the Federal Reporter, the Federal Supplement, and the Federal Appendix.
The medium-term goal is the creation of an unencumbered full-text repository of all state and federal cases and codes.
John Markoff, The New York Times, A Quest to Get More Court Rulings Online, and Free: "The domination of two legal research services over the publication of federal and state court decisions is being challenged by an Internet gadfly who has embarked on an ambitious project to make more than 10 million pages of case law available free online."
Tim O'Reilly, Radar, Carl Malamud Takes on WestLaw: "Carl Malamud has this funny idea that public domain information ought to be... well, public. He has a history of creating public access databases on the net when the provider of the data has failed to do so or has licensed its data only to a private company that provides it only for pay. His technique is to build a high-profile demonstration project with the intent of getting the actual holder of the public domain information (usually a government agency) to take over the job."
Some other new caselaw search tools and archives include:
AltLaw: "AltLaw provides the first free, full-text searchable database of Supreme Court and Federal Appellate case reports. It is a resource for attorneys, legal scholars, and the general public.… AltLaw is a joint project of Columbia Law School’s Program on Law and Technology, and the Silicon Flatirons Program at the University of Colorado Law School. AltLaw was written by Stuart Sierra and Paul Ohm, with help from Luis Villa, and produced by Tim Wu."
Justia provides free access to federal district court civil case filings.
vLex is now a subscription service that does offer free access to US circuit court opinions along with some facility to search for cases that cite particular US Code sections.
Denise Howell, Lawgarithms @ ZDNet.com, » Changing the way we find, reference, and talk about the law: " In the long term, when the successors of public.resource.org and Tim Wu’s AltLaw ultimately make public case and statutory law searchable and cut-and-pasteable, and things like pagination morph into things like URIs, that’s a wrap for services like Westlaw and Lexis. Unless they figure out ways to do it first, better, and for free — but I wouldn’t bet on it."
Brett Frischmann, madisonian.net, The world’s first free, public domain legal search engine: "Why hasn’t Google done with cases what it’s done with patents and books? Is that on the horizon? Has it been done already and I just don’t know?"