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FindLaw's 'Court Website Madness' Tournament: Eastern Conference

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By Mark Wilson, Esq. on March 19, 2015 9:09 AM

March Madness is here! And along with March Madness comes brackets and tournaments of all shapes and sizes. Other legal blogs have done the worst law school thing before, so we wondered: Is there any other tournament out there?

Our experience reading through many different court websites led us to an obvious conclusion: Yes, there is. Some state and federal court websites are good, and some are terrible. In order to figure out which is the best, we present FindLaw's Court Website Madness Tournament!

Who do you think should win? Vote in our poll below, then download the tournament bracket (also embedded below) to play along at home.

The Rules

We divided the country into four conferences: South, East, Midwest, and West. Our teams consist of every state supreme court website, plus all 13 federal circuit court websites, and the U.S. Supreme Court. The tournament is single-elimination, with random seeds in each conference.

We'll determine winners based on website appearance, usability, and timeliness.

Here we go!

Eastern Conference: Round One Highlights

The East has some heavy hitters: New York, the Second and Third Circuits -- oh, and we moved the U.S. Supreme Court, Ohio, and Michigan here to even out all the teams.

In the first round of play, Vermont was easily knocked out by Massachusetts. Vermont's website has a real 1990s feel to it: Users have to navigate through two separate pages to get to the list of opinions, and even then, it's just a text list with links. Plus, opinions are only released online every Friday! Weak sauce, Vermont.

Likewise, New York's more functional layout beat Connecticut's approach of throwing a whole lot of links on the home page. New Jersey really suffered at the hands of the Second Circuit because New Jersey Supreme Court opinions are available only for 10 days; after that, you have to search a Rutgers Newark Law School website, and boy, is that a complicated page to work with.

Round Two

In the second round, Pennsylvania beat the Third Circuit, the first state court website to beat a federal one. It was a close match between Delaware and the U.S. Supreme Court, but SCOTUS just eked out a win thanks to its more modern design. Massachusetts suffered defeat at the hands of the Second Circuit because of the amount of clicking we had to do to find the opinions. And the First Circuit's superior layout gave it a win over New York.

Round Three

The big upset of the East, though, was SCOTUS: It got trounced by Pennsylvania, which has a much more modern design, more easily accessible information, and even a "cases of public interest" section. The closest matchup so far was between the First and Second Circuit, the latter just barely squeaking by due to more substantive announcements on the home page.

Winner: Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Of course, the Second Circuit didn't stand a chance against Pennsylvania's design and usability. Pennsylvania has one of the best court websites we've seen, and it has a real shot at winning the whole enchilada.

Come back next Tuesday for the Southern Conference matchups, featuring Texas, the D.C. Circuit, and some big surprises.

Who was your pick for the Eastern Conference?
First Circuit
Maine
Massachusetts
Rhode Island
New Hampshire
Second Circuit
Vermont
New York
Connecticut
Third Circuit
Pennsylvania
New Jersey
Delaware
U.S. Supreme Court
Ohio
Michigan
Poll Maker

FindLaw's Court Website Madness Tournament 2015 by FindLaw

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