Alone among California’s branches of government, the state’s appellate courts remain stuck in a pattern of legal publication designed around books. Other states now furnish unrestricted digital access to final, official, citable versions of their judicial precedent. California does not. The current “official reports” publication contract with LexisNexis runs until June 2017. At that point the state’s judicial branch could do the same. There are compelling reasons why it should.
II. The Constitutional, Statutory, and Contractual Framework
Every year California’s appellate courts hand down roughly one thousand decisions that count as legal precedent. Those opinions, containing interpretations of constitutions (federal and state), statutes, and regulations, as well as rulings on points of uncodified law, are binding on the courts, governmental agencies, businesses, and citizens of the state. To a degree true of no other state’s jurisprudence they also influence decisions of the nation’s other courts.
Recognizing the critical importance of public access to this
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