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Harvard Opens Massive Caselaw Library Online

By William Vogeler, Esq. on November 08, 2018 2:56 PM

After five years of scanning court decisions, Harvard Law School has opened an online library of nearly 6.5 million cases to the public for free.

The Caselaw Access Project put the entire body of U.S. caselaw on the internet. The project digitized more than 40 million pages of court decisions.

Built on more than 360 years of caselaw, the digital library goes back to the 17th Century. It is accessible in common readable formats, and is now the largest law library of its kind.

CAPAPI Is

The project is known as Caselaw Access Project API; API is the application program interface. It allows users to access the information in different ways.

The website has applications designed for different uses, such as compiling cases and doing word searches. The API is open for other developers to create other tools.

The digital library includes:

  • All official, book-published cases in the United States
  • Cases from all state courts, federal courts, territorial courts from 1658 to 2018

CAPAPI Is Not

The project does not include:

  • Cases published after June 2018
  • Unpublished cases, including trial court decisions
  • Cases already published officially in digital form

The Harvard project is not related to PACER developments, including the Free Law Project that made federal court orders and opinions free online. But it is now leading the effort towards making more court records available online.

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