Sunday, June 01, 2008

CALL 2008 Conference - Journey of a Judgment

For me, one of the most informative sessions at this year's annual conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries in Saskatoon (May 25-28) was Journey of a Judgment on Monday, May 26.

The 4 presenters described what happens to a judgment after it leaves the hands of a judge.

Kate Welsh, Courts Advisory Counsel for the Alberta Courts, explained how the Alberta court system had to develop a process for editing judgments to take into account privacy considerations. There are 16 different protocols that may apply before a judgment makes it to the Internet.

Dennis Berezowsky, Local Registrar, Court of Queen's Bench for Saskatchewan, described the role of court registries as the final repository for official versions of judgments.

Anne Campbell, Manager, Law Reports Group, Canada Law Book, provided a very detailed rundown of all the steps a judgment goes through before it appears in a print digest, a print law report volume, or in electronic format.

I literally lost count of how many steps are involved: reception of cases via download, e-mail or snail mail; dumping everything into a work database for editing; metadata tagging and filtering for publication bans; classification and summarizing (reasons, catchlines, assignment of case treatments); selection of important cases for inclusion in full-text law reports; writing of headnotes for the law reports; researching the accuracy of all citations and authorities; creating entries for cases judicially noted, and for statutes/rules/regs noted; double-checking with counsel for any publication bans, supplementary reasons, amendments or appeals; a final read through before the send-off of full-text judgments to printing and to the E-Products group, etc.

Finally, Ivan Mokanov, CanLII Editor-in-Chief, gave some insight into the workflow involved in publishing a massive free legal information portal like CanLII that handles an average of 3,000 new cases per week.

CanLII has created numerous automated data extraction processes for citations, style of cause, and for inserting hyperlinks for citations contained in the body of judgments. It also creates judicial histories for cases using computer-assisted protocols and runs some fairly complex Boolean searches to find any cases that may be covered by publication bans or that raise privacy concerns. These flagged cases are set aside for editorial review.

In the future, CanLII plans to work on automated case summaries and subject classification and on computer-assisted noting up of words and phrases.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:35 pm


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