Google, Bing, Ask, Hakia, Wolfram Alpha – nice information gathering tools to be sure, but do they really target exactly what you want you are looking for?
An often-overlooked option is creating a custom search engine that hones in on the sites and searches that you are most interested in. John DiGilio discusses the custom search engine option at LLRX in his article Bridging the DiGital Divide: Custom Search Engines Put You In Control.
DiGilio discusses two options: Google Custom Search and Rollyo (“Roll Your Own”) and mentions a third, CSE Links.
These tools allow you to direct your search at specific sites, include specific parameters and, essentially, cut loose the extraneous from your results. I have created a Google Custom Search engine that targets the websites of State Insurance Departments and related agencies and organizations, which is particularly useful for finding form filings and legislative news. I have compared results on my custom search site to general Google results and find the former more tailored and on-point.
If you find yourself searching the same issues over and over again and have specific results in mind, consider the custom search option and tap into that “do-it-yourself” aesthetic.
Imagine telling the world that a United States Supreme Court opinion is still good law, even though it had been explicitly overturned three weeks ago? Well, West apparently was doing just that with regard to the case Michigan v. Jackson, 475 U.S. 625, which was overruled by Montejo v. Louisiana.
The misreporting continued until late Friday, but appears to have since been corrected. Lexis/Nexis reported the correct posture from the start.
Interesting blunder, but not an impossible one. After all, this work of updating cases is done by humans. In some ways, it is no different than the partner who relies on the associate’s “shepardizing”, only to find the associate has missed some key treatment in a case.
So, what do you do in court when you mistakenly rely on authority that is no longer good law? Explain that you relied on West – one of the largest legal publishers in the world, which by all rights should be a legally reasonable thing to do.
Hat tip to Legal Writing Prof Blog
Don Cruse at the Supreme Court of Texas Blog responds to the outrage that unpublished memorandum opinions have been made precedential authority but ready access to them has not been provided. All but one of the Courts of Appeals can be searched with an operator in Google: “site:courts.state.tx.us/opinions.” For a specific court, add __rdcoa before “courts”, with the underline being the court’s circuit number. Dallas court opinions can be found at http://www.5thcoa.courts.state.tx.us/search_o.htm. Cruse offers additional advice on how to search Texas Supreme Court opinions, even they are all published and do not pose the same problem as the unreported appellate court opinions. Check out the official website here and Don’s website here. Or simply use the same basic Google trick suggested for the appellate opinions, inserting “supreme” for the specific court and adding “historical” after the last slash instead of “opinions.”
Thanks Don for rising to meet this equal access problem with some excellent advice. Although the system is not perfect, and is a bit cumbersome in its reliance on the less than perfect Google, it does offer some means to reach these resources without having to shell out the big bucks.
Hat tip to Legal Research Plus