Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Google Scholar Follow-Up

Lawyers I work with who have heard of Google Scholar find it a valuable tool because it provides quick, easy, and free access to caselaw that they work with every day. Cautions about the inability of Google to truly verify the validity of a case should not, of course, be ignored for those conducting legal research.

I previously posted about the recency of Google caselaw specifically with respect to updates from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court. (To summarize; it knew of citations but didn't have full text of decisions issued as recently as three weeks before, and had full text of decisions from about eight weeks back).

Today I went back and reviewed the status of recent caselaw in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court archive as compared to Google's set of Massachusetts state caselaw on Google Scholar.

Google has the full text of the Kilburn case issued February 24, 2010, but not the pro se appeal of George Nassar issued February 26, 2010. The most recent case on Google is the White v. Commonwealth case from March 1 (now slightly more than two weeks ago) (n.b. future readers of this post, the "Nassar" case is a link into the Westlaw repository of SJC slip opinions, my non-Google source of SJC decisions, may break in the future).

To summarize, their coverage of recent caselaw is somewhat spotty for decisions issued within the last month, but the "delay" has been reduced significantly to, in one case, half a month or 16 days from date of issue. Google Scholar is not now somehow aware of citations in advance of having the full, formal opinion.

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