Judges make decisions and write opinions. Some opinions get published and some do not. Unpublished opinions get unofficially published in West’s Federal Appendix and very often show up online. And on infrequent occasions some opinions find their way into LexisNexis but not Westlaw; others are found in Westlaw but not LexisNexis.
Here’s a case that caught my eye while doing some docket searching (I drink POM Wonderful, so that’s why it stood out).
On December 21, 2009 Judge A. Howard Matz, of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, issued an 7-page order in the case of POM Wonderful LLC v. Welch Foods, Inc.. This opinion includes, among other things, a discussion of standing under the California Unfair Competition Act and the California False Advertising Act. At the end of the document, the judge writes: “This Order is not intended for publication or for inclusion in the databases of Westlaw or LEXIS.” (emphasis mine)
A quick search of Bloomberg Law dockets produces at least a dozen other orders from this same judge with this same language.
So what about Bloomberg Law.com? Or Google Scholar? Or Fastcase? Justia? May any/all of them include the order?
Or is it just the strength of the Wexis duopoly and the judge really means he does not want the order published online anywhere.
LexisNexis and Westlaw have been the big players for decades. But Google really could be a game-changer. As a review article in the March 8, 2010 issue of The Recorder (“Worthy Adversary”) by Oliver Benn of Google Scholar points out:
If Google wants to devote its resources to addressing its current limitations, the future of legal research could become very different. Many courts accept briefs electronically. Why not hyperlink cited cases in the brief to the cases’ free Google pages?
And getting back to POM Wonderful, apparently it is available in LexisNexis and Westlaw, despite the judge’s request that it not be (please see comment from Bev Butula).