Last year, I was assigned to cover the Tenth Circuit, and it was a glorious time. I mocked the court's citation of dicta in a terrible concealed carry opinion, laughed when they raged at the Ninth Circuit and a litigious undocumented immigrant, and alliterated when Mr. Cush's curtilage was invaded by a "knock and sniff."
When assignments were shuffled later that year, I genuinely missed the Tenth Circuit beat. I also apparently missed the part where they redesigned the website to turn it in to a steaming pile of something folks in many 10th Circuit states will be familiar with: horse manure.
Where Have All the Cases Gone?
Cue the Paula Cole, minus the cowboys.
We'll start with the negativity. For those of us who cover the court's opinions, we better be prepared to check daily, configure an RSS reader, or type in some Boolean-esque advanced search terms just to find the most recent cases. And even then, it's a pain in the butt.
The drop-down "Opinions" menu gives you three options:
"Today's Opinions" is perfectly fine -- published, unpublished, orders and judgments -- it's exactly what you want.
But the "Search Opinions" section? Holy hell, am I a programmer? I'm exaggerating slightly, but why in the heck did the court opt for a single search box that requires you to use "Advanced Search Syntax" for queries?
If you're looking for this week, count backwards seven days and type in "start:05/07/14." If you want a range of dates, add a comma: "start:05/07/14, end:05/14/14." You know what other courts' websites do? They have links for "this week" or "this month," not some syntax junk.
And please, do not forget the comma or mess up a date -- you'll end up with 683 search results.
It gets worse: results are not filtered by published, unpublished, etc. For lawyers with a case before the court, it's no big deal, as they have a case number or a party name. For media, academics, students and other people who read important precedential opinions because they have no friends or hobbies? UGHHH.
Finally, this is what "Browse Opinions (1995 to Present)" looks like:
The Tenth Circuit's new redesign might be the worst government website out there, other than initial ACA exchange. pic.twitter.com/KpFwZdkDBI-- William Peacock, esq (@PeacockEsq) May 15, 2014
Yeah -- 1995 is back folks. Fortunately, there is a feedback form. Guess where this post is going?
It's Not All Terrible
Let's give the court a polite golf clap for the overall appearance, responsive design, etc., even if it is lipstick on a pig until the search function is fixed. Seriously, it's very pretty, the site adjusts to fit the size of your device's screen, making browsing on a mobile device possible (just don't search or try to file), and it's lightning fast.
Also, two sections: "New or Infrequent Attorney Filer Guide" and "Filing Your Appeal Without an Attorney Guide" seem promising and contain valuable information on fees, procedures, becoming a member of the court's bar, etc.
But seriously. Fix the search. And if anyone else suffers from my same plight, our FindLaw case section has the circuit's published decisions, though we're occasionally a day or two behind.
If you have problems with the Tenth Circuit's site, tweet us FindLawLP. Maybe we can get their attention.
- Salt Lake's 'Borg' Courthouse Debuts with a Shooting (FindLaw's Tenth Circuit Blog)
- Judge's Stock Broker's Flub Led to Conflict in Unremarkable Case (FindLaw's Tenth Circuit Blog)
- 3 Issues to Watch in the 10th Circuit: SS Marriage, Abortion, Weed (FindLaw's Tenth Circuit Blog)