Office of US Public Policy
666 Pennsylvania Ave., SE Suite 301
Washington, DC 20003

Via electronic mail to:

March 14, 1997

Appellate Court and Circuit Administration Division
Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
Suite 4-512
Washington, DC 20544

Re: ABA Citation Resolution

Dear Members of the Judicial Conference,

The US Public Policy Committee of the Association for Computing (ACM) supports adoption of the standard citation system for use by federal and state courts as recommended by the American Bar Association. We believe that the government should enable citizens access to legislative, judicial and executive branch information through the Internet and that such information should be available in standard formats to promote broad and effective access.

The public domain citation system now under consideration will promote public access to judicial decisions because it is media neutral and will support the fast approaching conversion of reference material of all types. We further believe that by taking this step the court system of the United States will encourage courts in other countries to adopt similar changes and thereby promote greater public access to legal materials around the world. This effort will also demonstrate to numerous other publishers of government information that such change is desirable, customer friendly and easy to accomplish.

The fact that the proposed citation system will enable courts to publish their decisions immediately, without waiting for a page based publications process, will provide significant benefits to those in the legal profession, researchers in many disciplines, and the general public.

The major operational change proposed is that the court official producing the decision's text insert paragraph numbers on each paragraph. This is a feature of most word processing products and should cause insignificant operational difficulty.

When the proposal is implemented, judges, court officials, lawyers and the general public will have a consistent, media neutral text that can be searched electronically and utilized directly in producing other documents. At the same time, the existing citation systems will remain available to ensure continuity and accessibility by those learned in those systems or restricted to paper based reporting of judicial decisions.

We would appreciate an opportunity to testify on April 3 in support of the proposal. As an organization of skilled computer scientists and engineers, the Association for Computing would be pleased to provide impartial advice on the technical issues of implementing this proposal. It is a simple, straightforward proposal, but there may be some technical concerns that we can answer.

We support immediate implementation of the proposed uniform standard and appreciate this opportunity to provide our comments to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Court by the Internet.


Barbara Simons, Chair
US Public Policy Committee,
Association for Computing