The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals likes to set trends. We can appreciate that. But sometimes, trend-setting form interferes with function.
If you check the Ninth Circuit's website for newly released cases -- which we do, everyday -- you've probably noticed a change in the way that cases are displayed: The font is freakin' huge.
The new case look is the result of the Ninth Circuit's decision to start publishing its opinions in-house — a move that should save the circuit about $350,000 each year. Previously, the court contracted with West Publishing for that service. (Full disclosure: West Publishing is owned by Thomson Reuters, which is also FindLaw's parent company.)
The court's Public Information Office explains in a press release:
Court staff now manage the process of converting opinions from the original word processing documents into Adobe PDF files, which are then uploaded onto the website, where they can be viewed and/or downloaded by the public. The opinions are formatted for optimal viewing on a tablet computing device. On a regular desktop or laptop computer screen, opinion text will initially appear oversized but can easily be redisplayed in normal size using the options available in the Adobe Reader software.
After the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference brouhaha, no one's going to criticize the court for saving money. But seriously — is the 198 percent display scale really necessary?
The press office says that the opinions are formatted for optimal viewing on tablets. On a regular desktop or laptop computer screen, opinion text will initially appear oversized, but can be redisplayed in normal size using the options available in the Adobe Reader software. (Go toolbar at the top of the case, and resize to either "Actual Size" or "100%.")
According to Molly Dwyer, the Ninth Circuit Clerk of Court, "the formatting change reflects the growing use of tablet devices."
Maybe the majority of the Ninth Circuit's followers are hip tablet-toters, but we suspect that there are still a few people reading these cases on regular ol' computers. (It's not just us, right? Right?)
If the Ninth Circuit really wants to be the trend-setting appellate court, it will task someone with coding those self-published cases for responsive web design.
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- A Sixth Sense: 6th Circuit Has Surpassed the 9th as the Most Reversed Appeals Court (ABA Journal)