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A 'Consumer Reports' of the Bench

What Consumer Reports does for appliances and Zagat does for restaurants, a Web site launched last week aims to do for judges. The site, Judicial Reports, offers in-depth profiles of New York state's 328 Supreme Court judges. Eventually, it will add New York's federal judges and, if there is demand, judges in other states. Each profile draws on information available in public records together with independent research, analysis and reporting. Thus, a profile includes a judge's biography and vital statistics, but also the judge's reversal record, judicial conduct report and financial and campaign-finance disclosures. Included in a judge's biographical profile are comments from lawyers who have direct experience appearing before the judge.

Intrigued? Well, there is one condition to obtaining this information, and that is payment. Access to the site's judicial reports requires an annual subscription. For a firm of 50 or more lawyers, $4,800 buys 12 reports plus The Blue Book of New York City Judges, a digest of the site's research focused on trial judges in the city. For firms of 25 to 49 lawyers, the price is $3,600, and below 25 it is $3,000. You need pay nothing to access the front page of Judicial Reports, which features weekly, magazine-style articles reporting on the administration of justice in New York together with daily reviews of legal news. Other free features include The Reversal Report, a weekly review of notable reversals, and The Moral Compass, an advice column on judicial ethics.

Judicial Reports is operated by the Institute for Judicial Studies, a company directed by Dirk Olin, former national editor of The American Lawyer. Journalists and lawyers make up its staff. The site's research, says Olin, is similar to that any litigator would perform upon assignment to a judge, only in greater depth and with more analysis than the lawyer alone could do. 

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on September 13, 2006 at 04:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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