Category Archives: Weblogs

Nov 4
1:54 PM
Sep 24
2:10 PM

Link rot in SCOTUS decisions documented; half don’t go to original material

From the ABA Journal:

The U.S. Supreme Court has cited Internet materials 555 times since 1996, but tracking down the information isn’t always easy.

According to a new study by co-authored by Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain, half of the hyperlinks in Supreme Court opinions no longer link to the information originally cited. The New York Times covers the results. “Supreme Court opinions have come down with a bad case of link rot,” the Times says.

Click for full screenshot.

According to the study, many of the links did turn up Web pages, but
they didn’t go to the original information cited or the information had
materially changed. Sometimes when the information changed, there was no
note indicating the update.

The Times notes one hyperlink in an opinion about violent video games
by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. Users who click on the link are taken to
an error message
that reads: “Aren’t you glad you didn’t cite to this Web page? … If you
had, like Justice Alito did, the original content would have long since
disappeared and someone else might have come along and purchased the
domain in order to make a comment about the transience of linked
information in the Internet age.”

The Supreme Court clerk does keep a hard copy of hyperlinked
materials, but Zittrain suggest another solution: a platform that would
allow authors to generate, store, and reference archived data. He is
working on such a platform, called, which is supported by a
group of law libraries and nonprofits. Though the project would
initially focus on legal scholarship, it would also work for the Supreme
Court, Zittrain told the Times.

Source: Debra Cassens Weiss, Link Rot in SCOTUS Decisions Documented; Half Don't Go to Original Material, ABA Journal (Sep. 24, 2013).

See also:

Jonathan Zittrain, Perma: Scoping and addressing the problem of "link rot," The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It (Sep. 20, 2013).

Kendra Albert & Jonathan Zittrain, Perma: Scoping and Addressing the Problem of Link and Reference Rot in Legal Citations (working paper on SSRN) (Sep. 21, 2013).

Adam Liptak, In Supreme Court Opinions, Web Links to Nowhere, N.Y. Times (Sep. 23, 2013).

Raizel Liebler & June Liebert, Something Rotten in the State of Legal Citation: The Life Span of a United States Supreme Court Citation Containing an Internet Link (1996—2010), 15 Yale J.L & Tech. 273 (2013), a service, currently in beta, that allows users to create citation links that will never break.


Aug 24
10:25 AM

Student Cyber-speech: An update on last spring’s McLennon Moot Court topic

Over the summer, there was a flurry of activity on the topic of last spring's Paul A. McLennon, Sr. Honors Moot Court Competition. For those of you who spent many, many hours last semester preparing your briefs and oral arguments (congrats to winner Craig TenBroeck and all the competitors), you need no reminder. But for the rest of you, here's a brief synopsis of the competition topic:

A high school took disciplinary action against a student for posting a link on his blog to a song he'd written containing violent and offensive lyrics. The song referred to a school administrator by name and to a fellow student by the initial "M." The disciplined student posted the link using his home computer. There were two primary issues: (1) whether the school had authority over the student's off-campus cyber-speech; and (2) if the school did have such authority, whether the school's disciplinary action was proper under the First Amendment.

On July 25, 2011,the student in Doninger v. Niehoff, 527 F.3d 41 (2d Cir. 2008), one of the cases cited by Moot Court competitors, petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari. Read a summary of the issues before the court here and here.
Also, a number of appellate cases concerning school discipline over a student’s off-campus, online speech were handed down over the summer. Two 3rd Circuit cases favored students:

J.S. ex rel. Snyder v. Blue Mountain Sch. Dist., No. 08-4138 (3rd Cir. Jun. 13, 2011)
Layshock ex rel. Layshock v. Hermitage Sch. Dist., No. 07-4465 (3d Cir. Jun. 13, 2011).

And cases from the 4th and 8th Circuits favored school districts:

Kowalski v. Berkeley Co. Sch., No. 10-1098 (4th Cir. Jul. 27, 2011)
D.J.M. ex rel. D.M. v. Hannibal Pub. Sch. Dist. No. 60, No. 10-1428, No. 10-1579 (8th Cir. Aug. 1, 2011)

Here's some of the coverage of these cases around the blawgosphere:
J.S. and Layshock: LawProfBlog & SPLC
D.J.M: EdWeek & Fire
Kowalski: EdWeek & WSJ Blog

Here are a couple of other recent interesting blog posts and articles on the topic:
Ed. Law Rep. article & Justia blog post  [JML]

Aug 17
11:51 AM

Google Sitelinks Enhancements

The Google engineers have been busy improving their sitelinks feature. This is a feature that provides links to subpages of a website right in your search results. The Google search algorithm takes a guess at which specific subpage you're interested in, even if you didn't include details in your search terms. For example, if I search for University of San Diego LRC, Google gives me a link to the LRC's homepage first, but beneath that Google also gives me a short list of some of the LRC subpages most popular with visitors to the website, including our hours and contact info:


The latest changes to the feature were announced on Google's blog which is a great place to keep up with the latest and greatest from our friends at Google. [JML]

Apr 29
4:42 PM

The Free Law Reporter

Earlier this week, CALI's latest project, the Free Law ReporterTM, went live. According to the announcement, "[t]he goal of FLR is to develop a freely available, unencumbered law reporter that is capable of serving as a resource for education, research, and practice."

It's still experimental, and very much a work-in-progress. As the CALI announcement says, "[t]he next steps will depend upon community involvement."

Current functionality is limited to basic keyword searching, but the underlying technology allows for more sophisticated search functionality down the line — facet searching and “more like this” functionality reportedly coming soon.

The cases are also being compiled as downloadable eBooks (.epub). Each state and federal jurisdiction is gathered into a volume each week. An example file can be found here, although links to all available .epub files haven't yet been posted.

FLR's current contents are posted here. To read more about the project and the technology behind it, click here. To get updates on the project and hear how you can get involved, click here. [JML]