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Subject: Meeting notes from our Conference Call, 13 Nov. 2014 at 21:00 UTC

We had our conference call meeting today at 21:00 UTC. In addition to
myself, we had Ken Hirsh & Michael Neuren in attendance.

I have created a private repository on GitHub for the SC. It is at:

CourtsSC members should email me their GitHub usernames so that I can add them to the repository collaborator list. If you don't have a GitHub account, basic ones (all you need for this) are free and available at:

If you have never used GitHub and want to find out how, I highly recommend this new book from O'Reilly:

It is $21.99 as an ebook (& without DRM). Yes, I am a librarian, why do you ask?

Last meeting, I said I would get started creating a unified source document, starting with the federal courts of the US. I have created a document called "FederalCourts" on GitHub. It is a list of all the US federal courts, the dates they were/are in operation, and a description of their print citations. It is a work in progress right now, but I should be finished within a week. I would like you all to take a look at it and tell me if I'm going in the right direction. I will also create shortly another document that is, for lack of a better term, the citation model.

Having dived into the federal courts, a couple of questions immediately popped up:

  1. What is an adjudication for our purposes, and what is really an administrative document? In other words, what is a court/tribunal? We looked at the wiki, and found it wasn't clear, so I will ask the whole TC for guidance. Ken suggested that no matter what, we were going to have to draw an arbitrary line. Should it be if the issuing body has "Court" in its name? Or should it be more based upon the document itself..if it is an adjudication of someone's interests, then it is under us, as opposed to a regulation or order.  Some conflicts with the AdminSC might occur over what they describe as "investigations / findings" & "Letters & interpretations (e.g no-action letters)". 
    • An example from an area of law I'm very familiar with, veterans' claims (my wife is a part of the Board of Veterans' Appeals). The veterans' claims system has what I would call adjudications at various levels. The base level is at the DVA Regional Office, where a Hearing Officer rules on a veteran's claim for service connection, disability, and/or other claim. The veteran can then appeal that decision to a Veterans' Law Judge (ALJ) on the Board of Veterans' Appeals. Those appeals decisions can themselves be appealed to the Court of Appeals for Veterans' Claims, which is an Article I court. Their decisions are appealable to the Federal Circuit, and then to SCOTUS, which are both Article III courts. At what point do those decisions fall under our purview? 
  2. What is a use case, exactly? What are we trying to create? None of us really have a clear grasp of this, and need guidance. 
    • I said that I thought what we were doing in this first step was two-fold. (1) model a citation format that covers all US federal court decisions, and (2) create a list of all the possible forms a US federal citation could take by looking at each court in the system, how they were traditionally cited in print (and over time, as that could change), and what the various uniform citation rules/guidelines say a neutral citation should be. From this 2d document we get the data we can run against the citation model we create.
    • But then I looked at what other SCs were using (especially LegisSC) and what John Joergensen had put up on Google Docs for CourtsSC, and I wondered if we were doing this correctly. Ken also felt this way. We could use some help here.
  3. What are the minimum parts of a citation to an adjudication? 
    • Ken suggested: case name/title, court(or j/d), date, pointer to specific document instance.
    • I asked whether date should be a full date (m/d/y, y/m/d, etc.) or just a year.
    • We thought we would next look at sources to see what they required:
      • bluebook
      • AALL Uniform Citation Rules, 3d
      • ABA 1996 & 2003 citation resolutions (see the chat log below).
We set a tentative meeting time for 12/4 at 21:00 UTC. Is this a bad time for folks? We only had 3 people today. Should we be doing this asynchronously on the listserv instead?
Here is the chat log:

*[15:47] **John Heywood1:* Hello to all.

*[16:12] **anonymous morphed into Michael Neuren*

*[16:26] **Michael Neuren:* This was the ABA Resolution text: The standard form of citation, shown for a decision in a federal court of appeals, should be:
Smith v. Jones, 1996 5Cir 15,  18, 22 F.3d 955.
1996 is the year of the decision; 5Cir refers to the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit; 15 indicates that this citation is to the 15th decision released by the court in the year; 18 is the paragraph number where the material referred to is located, and the remainder is the parallel citation to the volume and page in the printed case report where the decision may also be found.

That's all for now,


John Quentin Heywood

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