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And the Federal Circuit With the Hottest Web site Is ...

Not since Underneath Their Robes' David Lat sponsored the  Judicial Hotties contest has anyone else held a beauty pageant for the federal judiciary ... until (sort of) now.  In his recent article, Howard Bashman, a Law.com columnist and blogger on the legal network, judges the federal circuits' Web sites on a criteria where looks don't matter as much as functionality and extent of information.

In Which Federal Appellate Court Has the Best Web Site? Bashman's top prize goes to the 8th Circuit, as Bashman explains:

"After spending many hours browsing these [federal circuit] sites, I've formed some opinions as to which are the most informative. The Web site of the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,  in my opinion, currently ranks as the best of all federal appellate  court Web sites. The Web site's recently redesigned home page offers easy access to a wealth of information, including information about the court's judges, oral argument locations, hotels near those oral argument locations and an oral argument calendar.  A tremendously helpful feature that the 8th Circuit is the only  federal appellate court to offer is a daily summary of the issues presented and the outcome of each published and unpublished opinion released by the court. The summary also identifies which judge wrote the opinion, which other judges were on the panel, and whether any of  those other judges issued their own separate opinions. The 8th Circuit also deserves special recognition as only one of two federal appellate courts (along with the 7th Circuit) to provide."

And what about the others?  Bear in mind that despite his name, Bashman doesn't have the same luxury of bashing the court as Simon Cowell does to contestants on American Idol.  After all, Bashman appears before many of these courts.  Still, he offers suggestions to some of the other circuits for improving their Web sites, suggesting that the 10th Circuit retain opinions online longer than 90 days and to post them earlier in the day; that the 1st Circuit identify opinions as precedential or nonprecedential and that the 2nd Circuit improve its search capability for locating opinions.

Bashman's right in concluding that  "The amount and timeliness of information available free of charge from federal appellate courts' Web sites is truly amazing."  Compared to what was available online just five ago and now, the biggest winners in the judicial Web site competition are lawyers, our clients and the general public who benefit greatly from these resources.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on June 5, 2006 at 06:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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