Thursday, June 15, 2006

Unpublished Opinions

Linda Ryan just forwarded the following message to the Law Library Directors listserv. As the author of the message, Becky Wentz, points out, the timing of Lexis's action is more than coincidental--LexisNexis announced this change AFTER the Supreme Court's decision to permit the citation of unpublished opinions. Will Westlaw follow suit? Will access to unpublished opinions for LexisNexis academic subscribers be affected? Will disaggregation of databases become the norm? This is why it is so dangerous to make long-term collection development decisions based on what LexisNexis and Westlaw currently make available to their law school subscribers.

"Re: Lexis Unpublished Opinion Charges

Dear Fellow Librarians:

In May Lexis sent out a letter regarding a new database which will contain ALL unpublished decisions from April 16, 2005 forward. Lexis states that the charge for using this database will be the transaction charge plus $30 unless you subscribe to the Combined Federal and State Case database. In that case the charge will be $30.
In the past, unpublished opinions were part of the Combined Federal and State Case database. There was no extra charge attached to their use.
Now Lexis is charging extra for providing unpublished opinions that were included as part of the basic Federal/State Case database in the past.
Lexis says this is due to the large volume of cases now being released in electronic format by the courts.
The timing of this move is questionable & troubling. The U.S. Supreme Court has adopted rules that will allow citation to unpublished opinions in starting 2007. Attorneys will be forced to use this database and incur the charge in order to give their clients competent representation.
I am asking for your support in advising Lexis of our opposition to such a change. Please write to your Lexis Representative protesting this move to charge extra for what was formerly part of a basic service.

Very truly yours,

Attorneys At Law"

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