We earlier commented on the recent practice in some courts of delivering their opinions through Twitter, abiding by the 140-character post limits to drastically shorten the lengths of their rulings. Apparently the idea isn’t just appealing to courts: Yesterday, LexisNexis publicly announced that it would be editing its entire online archives of court decisions for publication solely through Twitter.
“I don’t think people realize just how much stuff there is that judges say,” noted Ralph Verspaccio, CEO of LexisNexis. “It’s just so many words. Who wants to read all that? Nobody. We’ve surveyed our users and found that most find it a waste of time to go through pages and pages of worthless commentary that was most likely written entirely by a 26-year-old law clerk anyway.”
Within hours of the announcement, some of the country’s most important cases were successfully processed and appeared on the @LexisNexisCases Twitter feed. Marbury v. Madison, for example, read as: “Mrbry has legl rite 2 commissn bt we cant delvr bcaus Judicry Act invald: unconstitutnal. We hve judicl rview: Emf@clly prvnce + dty of Judicl Dpt. 2 say wht the law is.” Verspaccio said that it would take weeks to convert every reported case in the LexisNexis database.
Attorneys expressed optimism that the move would significantly lessen time spent on legal research, although many said they were wary to cite the LexisNexis Twitter precedent until they were sure that judges would accept them; lawyer Eugene Pallonet of Jackson, Wengle & Stopleson LLP in Sacramento, for example, said that his firm was treating the Lexis Twitter feed as a secondary, rather than primary, source until the reaction of the courts was more apparent. Law students across the country, however, expressed near-universal excitement.
“My reading assignments just fell from 40 pages a night to two sentences,” said Wendy Rellert, a second-year law student at Indiana Law.
“Brief cases? Let’s see… yeah, I could do that,” said Jake Narpern, a first-year law student at Wyoming Law. “Or, you know, I could just make a custom Lexis Twitter feed and have that up on my laptop screen during class. Yeah, I think I’ll do that instead.”
In the meantime, it’s apparent that Lexis is targeting important and famous cases as the first to make the Twitter transition. Also appearing on @LexisNexisCases yesterday was the landmark ruling of Brown v. Board of Education, posted as, “Sepr@ eductionl facilities nherntly NOT =. Segrgation by itself is hrmful 2 blck stdnts; sens of nferiorty. Violates = Prtection Claus of 14 Amndmnt; unconstitnl.”