On the Tex Parte Blog, Angela Morris recently wrote about an impending hearing by the Texas Supreme Court to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a PACER-like system for Texas courts. From an access-to-information standpoint, this would be a great development! Not only would it make accessing court documents much easier state-wide, but it would require the creation of "a centralized service".
As anyone who has been following the debate over the creation of uniform (or neutral) citation standards should recognize, one of the largest obstacles to uniform citation is the lack in many states of a centralized body responsible for assigning sequential numbers to the opinions of that particular state's many courts. Thus, for example, in Texas, there is currently no body charged with assigning unique sequential opinion numbers to all of the opinions from the various Texas Courts of Appeals. (Of course, Texas could take a leap forward and utilize a neutral format similar to Louisiana's, but c'mon, nobody really wants that.)
Granted, even if the system envisioned by the Texas Supreme Court were to be implemented, it would not, of itself, establish a centralized body charged with assigning sequential numbers to the opinions of the state's courts. However, I believe it would still be a positive first step toward such an institution. Once Texas has a centralized body working with the case documents from all the courts, it is not too much of a stretch to imagine that body's mission expanding to include practices that would be conducive to the establishment of a vendor- and format-neutral citation standard for Texas. That may be a long ways off, but one can dream.
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