New SCOCAL Resource – 9th Circuit Questions of Certification to the California Supreme Court

Thanks to the good folks at Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, the SCOCAL site now has a terrific new resource.

The 9th Circuit Questions of Certification to the California Supreme Court page contains a detailed list, with links, of all the questions certified to the California Supreme Court by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The practice began in 1998 and the list includes current cases.

Under California Rules of Court, Rule 8.548 (Decision on request of a court of another jurisdiction):

On request of the United States Supreme Court, a United States Court of Appeals, or the court of last resort of any state, territory, or commonwealth, the Supreme Court may decide a question of California law if:
(1)The decision could determine the outcome of a matter pending in the requesting court; and
(2)There is no controlling precedent.

Some time ago, the attorneys at  Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP starting tracking these types of questions as presented to the California Supreme Court by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

As we’ve mentioned before (here and here), our ALR students write annotations on California Supreme Court cases that appear on the SCOCAL site.  Our students regularly contact the attorneys in the cases to acquire briefs for posting on SCOCAL alongside their annotations.  This past quarter, one of our students reached out to the the attorneys at Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP.  Lucky for us, the attorneys there knew about our site and asked if we would be interested in posting and hosting their terrific resource listing the questions presented to the California Supreme Court.    We, of course, said yes.  Our students have now annotated sixteen of the cases on the list, and we hope to add more this year.

Please take a look and spread the word.

Special thanks, as always, to the amazing crew at Justia for everything they do to support the SCOCAL project as it evolves and grows.

SCOCAL in the news and its recent growth spurt (with a new feature in development too).

Our Supreme Court of California Resources  database  (SCOCAL) is in the news!  There is an item about the project on page 2 of the  Stanford Lawyer just-out Spring 2011 issue (Volume 45, Issue #2), “California Supreme Court Opinions and Annotations Online.” 

We have 67 students in our Advanced Legal Research class this spring (67!) and they each have to write two annotations.  The first is due today, so 67 new annotations will be appearing online before (or perhaps at) the first stroke of midnight.

Later this summer, in partnership with a law firm, we will be adding a new feature to the database, so please stay tuned.

Citation Process for California Supreme Court Opinions

On the NOCALL list today was an interesting posting from Kerry Shoji, Paralegal/Research Analyst.

Kerry had recently asked questions on the NOCALL list about the citation process for the California Supreme Court.  Kerry then passed the questions along to the experts, Fran Jones, Director of Library Services, California Judicial Center Library and Edward Jessen, Reporter of Decisions.

Below is the text of Kerry’s questions and Mr. Jessen’s responses. [Reproduced with the permission Kerry Shoji and Edward Jessen.]

“How can you find out a California Supreme Court citation on a recently decided case?  I have the LEXIS citation, but I am curious:

1) How the official reporter volume/page number for the citation is assigned?

The California Official Reports publisher assigns volumes and page numbers because it is essentially a byproduct of the print composition process, and deadlines preclude much involvement in this function by the Reporter of Decisions.  But the publisher is contractually required to print opinions in the order received, and there are contractual requirements for the pagination of volumes.

2) How long does it take to go from slip opinion to the bound opinion?

For example, Official Reports advance pamphlet No. 16 will contain all published opinions filed between 5/17/10 and 5/25/10, and will be issued on 6/17/10.  Promptness is regulated by the Official Reports publication contract.*

Citations for opinions in that pamphlet, however, will be available on LexisNexis by approximately June 11.

3) How one can determine the official citation once bound?

Bound volumes, as a general rule, publish about 10 to 12 months after the last pamphlet issues with opinions  for a particular volume.  Citations, however, never change between advance pamphlets and bound volumes, except that superseded opinions (review granted, depublished, or rehearing granted) are omitted.

4) Do all the Westlaw or Lexis electronic references get converted to the official citation once the bound version is issued?

For the California Official Reports, there are several points in the editorial process leading to the final version of opinions in the bound volumes at which this office or the publisher would “convert” a Lexis or Westlaw cite to another California opinion to the Official Reports cite.  The LexisNexis version of that opinion would also then receive the Official Reports cite in place of the Lexis or Westlaw cite.  I cannot speak to what Westlaw would do in this situation because it is not the official version of opinions and we do not control content in the way we do for opinions on LexisNexis.”

*Special note: Peter W. Martin, Cornell Law School, has published in his Access to Law site many of the contracts between State courts and law report publishers, including California (2003).  There is also a great table showing these contracts, too.

“Unauthorized Copying and Sale by Westlaw and LexisNexis of Appellate Briefs…”

Earlier today, we blogged about two recent legal news items (here and here) on the copyright concerns regarding California Supreme Court appellate briefs appearing on Westlaw and LexisNexis.

As a follow-up, we have posted (with permission) the full text of the letter from attorney Edmond Connor, asking the court to amend Rule of Court 8.212.

The subject line for the letter reads: “Unauthorized Copying and Sale by Westlaw and LexisNexis of Appellate Briefs Served on Supreme Court Pursuant to Rule of Court 8.212.”

Court Struggles to Balance Public Access With For-Profit Interests

Court Struggles to Balance Public Access With For-Profit Interests

By Laura Ernde
Daily Journal
10/30/2009

“Three months after an attorney complained that the California Supreme Court was giving away valuable appellate briefs to for-profit firms, the court is still trying to figureout how to get itself out of the sticky copyright dilemma without reducing public access.”

This all began when attorney Edmond Connor contacted the court in July after finding his brief on Lexis (and not for free).  More on this here. Read the letter that he sent to Justice Ronald M. George and Mr. William C. Vickrey this summer.

Brief Fight Likely to End in Compromise

From tomorrow’s (Friday’s) San Francisco Recorder:

Brief Fight Likely to End in Compromise
The Recorder

By Mike McKee

October 30, 2009

The [California] Supreme Court sounds willing to end its practice of shipping briefs from all the state’s appellate cases to Westlaw and LexisNexis, which charge for them. An Irvine lawyer [Edmond Connor] saw a copyright problem…

Some more from the article:

‘Connor, who claims court briefs are lawyers’ copyrighted property, wrote again last Friday, urging the court to at least amend Rule of Court 8.212 — which requires lawyers to file either one electronic copy or four hard copies of their briefs with the high court — to instead require only one paper copy.

“Litigants will not have to incur the needless time and expense,” he wrote, “of providing the court with extra copies of briefs that the court simply discards — or gives away to vendors.”

Legal Briefs for the California Supreme Court

There is a new feature on the California Supreme Court site.

Legal briefs for the cases on the September (2009) Oral Argument calendar are now online.

Hat tip to the Complex Litigator.

Read the Letter – Update: LexisNexis and Westlaw Violating Copyright?

Yesterday, Paul blogged about the Daily Journal article: “California Courts Come Under Fire for Giving Legal Briefs to For-Profit Firms.”  There was a lot of interest in that posting — our statistics show it as our busiest day ever.  We had 634 visits by 4pm.

This story was picked up by the Volokh Conspiracy with some really interesting commentary.

There was so much interest in that topic that we followed up with attorney Ed Connor and we are now able to share with our readers, with his permission, the letter that he sent to Justice Ronald M. George and Mr. William C. Vickrey.

The text of the letter is available as a PDF here.