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Moritz Law  /  Law Library  /  Opinio Juris  / March 2012


Opinio Juris - March 2012

Scroll down to read about the new Congressional Budget Office website, FDsys officially replacing GPO Access, the multidisciplinary database Scopus, a change to Google Scholar's opinion citator, and class actions against West and Lexis for their use of attorney briefs. For information about other topics, see the Moritz Legal Information Blog and the Moritz Law Library Facebook page.

New Congressional Budget Office Website

The Congressional Budget Office recently unveiled a new website with enhanced browsing and searching options. Using the topics tab, visitors can browse or search for CBO reports, cost estimates, and other publications by topics such as climate and environment, education, health care, housing, and national security. More detailed search options for cost estimates are available under the cost estimates tab, including filters for bill number, originating Congressional committee, budget function, keyword, and Congressional session. RSS feeds and email updates of CBO publication releases are also available. Additionally, the “my CBO” tab allows users to save customized searches after creating a free account.

FDsys Officially Replaces GPO Access

The Government Printing Office’s FDsys (Federal Digital System) website has now officially replaced GPO Access. Those navigating to www.gpoaccess.gov are now redirected to www.gpo.gov/fdsys. The FDsys site allows browsing of a wide variety of federal documents, retrieving documents by citation, and conducting simple or advanced searches of one or more document collections. Among the document collections are Congressional reports, Congressional hearings, the Congressional Record (daily edition), Congressional bills, and Public and Private Laws. Coverage for most collections begins around the mid-1990s. As part of a pilot program, FDsys also includes a limited collection of federal court opinions.


A good starting point for research outside traditional legal literature, Scopus is a broad abstracting and indexing database of thousands of peer-reviewed journals in the areas of life sciences, medicine, physical sciences, and social sciences and humanities. The database allows searching by a variety of fields and lets users save searches and create alerts. The database also provides extensive citation analysis for articles, authors, and particular journals. Scopus is available on-campus or off-campus with OSU authentication.

Google Scholar Opinion Citator

Google recently changed the way it presents citing opinions in Google Scholar. "[I]nstead of sorting the citing documents by their prominence," Google now sorts documents "by the extent of discussion of the cited case." Opinions discussing the cited opinion in the greatest depth appear at the top of the list, such as in this example of the Third Circuit opinion Dique v. New Jersey State Police, 603 F.3d 181. Google uses horizontal bars next to the case name to indicate the depth of treatment, three bars being the most in-depth. As others have noted, this new ordering parallels to some degree the depth of treatment stars in Westlaw's KeyCite.

Class Actions Against West and Lexis For Use of Briefs

Attorneys have recently filed several class action complaints against West Publishing and LexisNexis, alleging that the companies sold, distributed, and/or displayed attorneys' briefs in violation of copyright law. Complaints have been filed against Lexis and West in federal district court for the Southern District of New York and against West in federal district court in Connecticut. A Canadian attorney has also filed a class action against West in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, making similar allegations regarding attorney-authored court documents. The Ontario court recently certified the class. The Financial Post covers the Canadian case while Above-the-Law provides entertaining commentary on the New York case.