Interested in the United States Supreme Court? Check out the Supreme Court Database, a broad-based collection of information not necessarily targeted at lawyers. Currently, the store holds over 200 pieces of information on all cases decided between the 1953 and 2008 terms. It is a work in progress and new information is being added all the time. The proponents come from a variety of universities and colleges and a range of backgrounds.
In a sense, the database seeks to impose a structure on the pertinent data within and surrounding each decision. There is an analysis tool that allows for searching across the database using concepts and keywords. Hit the link to the codebook to view the list of variables culled from the cases, searchable using the analysis tool – it really is quite impressive.
If such analysis can be applied to the Supreme Court’s decisions, why not the lower court cases and statutory law? Sure it might take a while, but this effort could open the door to a semantic treatment of legal resources. Maybe we could even push legal research out of the approximately 15-year slump in which it is been languishing. Are you listening, Google?