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ABA launches case-summary site

towncrier3as-776170.JPGThanks to LII friend Paul Lomio for drawing our attention to a new project by the American Bar Association, Media Alerts on Federal Courts.  Very much like the LIIBULLETIN-NY project we launched in 1996, which comprehensively provided student-written summaries of New York Court of Appeals cases for nearly a decade,  Media Alerts provides  summaries written by law students under faculty supervision.  The publication is a project of the ABA Standing Committee on Federal Judicial Improvements.  According to the site:

This website is designed to provide reporters, lawyers, educators, and the public with prompt, accurate, unbiased information about newsworthy and legally significant cases pending in and decided by the Federal Courts of Appeals.  Our goal is to assist the media’s efforts to provide timely and extensive reporting about federal court decisions.  Use this website to find short summaries of recent opinions of public interest and noteworthy cases pending oral argument.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas of the Southern District of Texas, chair of the standing committee and LIIBULLETIN subscriber,  said  “There is nothing more important to our democracy and freedom than a well informed press and public. The Media Alerts on Federal Courts of Appeals site should enhance the media’s ability to help us achieve this goal.”

This is a welcome development, a form of supervised crowdsourcing that will add to the growing pool of high-quality secondary-source material on the Web.

Previously, ABA-sponsored writing about pending cases was the exclusive province of the Division for Public Education’s Supreme Court Preview.  In August, Preview issued a paper marketing piece (unfortunately unavailable online) distinguishing its more professional approach from other publications staffed by teams of students and law firm associates.  Preview subscriptions are $68 per year for law students, $105 per year for ABA members.  The LII’s LIIBULLETIN, which provides analysis of upcoming Supreme Court cases to over 19,500 subscribers via e-mail and 16,500 readers of the Federal Lawyer, continues to be available free of charge.