RECAP, a Firefox plugin that frees US caselaw one page at a time

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9 Responses to “RECAP, a Firefox plugin that frees US caselaw one page at a time”

  1. resnovae says:

    US Court docs are available to the public- via PACER, for 8 cents a page. That’s still miles cheaper and more convenient than your average FOIA request. Sometimes it seems like federal agencies are damned if they do or if they don’t. When most requesters redacted documents after waiting 30 days or so, as most FOIA requests require that much time to retrieve and review the documents, most are just as likely to complain too much information was redacted. Why beat up on the US Courts for making these documents viewable only from behind a paywall (which charges a minimal fee to help maintain the service) when there are so many agencies that can’t be bothered to digitize their records (or if they do, can’t be bothered to create a web interface for retrieving them- with or without a paywall in place).

  2. jimkirk says:

    Thanks, Little John, so that’s where it went. I think I had too many tabs open…

  3. AnoniMouse says:

    and I thought firefox had “add-ons”

  4. IamInnocent says:

    ‘Add-ons’ include extensions and themes both.

  5. sugarlaw says:

    RECAP is a wonderful development: it is a brilliant concept. It also has the added advantage of having the potential to assist federal litigators in managing their downloads of CM/ECF files – with meaningful file names.

    The title to this piece with the first sentence is somewhat misleading. As for district court case law, there is no way there are 20 million pages of case law – these are the entire court files and the judicial opinions are a small portion – so, do not get misled by the title. The 20 asserted million pages major value is and was as a test database for the development of RECAP.

    Indeed, all district court opinions are supposed to be free now anyway according the the federal judiciary policy. It is possible to link directly into these opinions and lists of free opinions are available from the Written Opinions Report in CM/ECF. We are pressing the courts to mark opinion documents as written opinions and progress is being made. I do not think RECAP will make much of a difference in this regard.

    In the meantime, websupp.org has far more district court opinions that there are in the 20 million pages of documents referred to above. And,unlike RECAP, websupp.org includes the metadata in the pdf file, has a meaningful file name, has a searchable pdf title with the case name and docket number etc, and date. These are areas where RECAP falls down at the present time, thought we hope that will improve. (and it is not searchable, buts it files will no doubt soon be on open web sites.)

    Omitting the docket number in both the file name and the metadata (as RECAP has done) within the pdf file is truly problematic.

    Let me give you an example. Bulk Resource.org has posted a file from the Daily Brief with nearly 30,000 summaries of new court opinions. Had this listing included the docket number of the cases, then locating the full opinion would be an easy thing to do – accssesing, for example, altlaw for the court of appeal opinions. The docket number of cases in the lingua franca that links everything together. Omitting it is citatioins and articles is dumbing downn and making linking more comples.

    Anyway, RECAP is a great step forward and will importantly open up far more access the briefs behind the court opinions. Now, that is revolutionary. Now it will be transparent when a court ignores inconvenient facts and arguments in the briefs of the parties. These have become avaialble for appellate cases, but less so for trial courts like the district courts.

    Bravo to RECAP. And it is nifty programming geekwise.

    On the other hand, RECAP can only function as a result of the enormous and careful effort that went into the creation and maintenance of CM/ECF – and the effort the Judiciary makes every day to keep the courts functioning and litigators sane. CM/ECF is light years ahead of the systems in most state courts. I really disagree with bashing these “bureaucrats” who actually have done all the hard work. Thank you to those who did the scut work.

    Alan Sugarman

  6. IamInnocent says:

    For Firefox they’re ‘extensions’ not ‘plugins’ (Javascript != API).
    RECAP is not public domain but GPLd.

  7. jimkirk says:

    Interesting that the bar graph has the number of domains down to the tenth. How to you withdraw 0.1 domain name?

    I love significant digits.

  8. Little John says:

    Captain, I believe you’ve been beamed into the wrong thread. Commander Scott, set coordinates to the next thread over.

  9. Free Pacer says:

    FreeCourtDockets.com has been giving away free Pacer dockets for months now. No Pacer account needed. No Firefox needed. No Plugin needed.

    http://www.freecourtdockets.com

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