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american lawyer media news service Robert J. Ambrogi, the former editorial director of The National Law Journal, is author of The Essential Guide to the Best (and Worst) Legal Sites on the Web. He can be reached at [email protected]. If you do not mind paying for them, you can obtain copies of legal briefs via the Web from several sources. But where can you find briefs for free? Among the services that offer briefs for a price are Westlaw at www.westlaw.com and LexisNexis at www.lexis.com, both of which have Supreme Court briefs. Westlaw includes briefs beginning with the court’s October 1990 term, while Lexis has briefs in some cases beginning from January 1979. Two other services that sell copies of briefs are Brief Reporter at www.briefreporter.com and BriefServe.com at www.briefserve.com. Brief Reporter offers briefs from a variety of state and federal courts, contributed by the lawyers who wrote them. Briefs are arranged by topic. The price of a brief is $40, or you can subscribe for $35 a month and pay $10 per brief. BriefServe.com has Supreme Court briefs beginning with the 1984 term. It also offers all U.S. circuit court briefs since 1981, and a selection of California and New York appellate briefs. Briefs cost $25 each, but there is a two-brief minimum. But a number of sites offer copies of briefs at no cost. Some provide briefs from a range of courts covering a variety of topics; others are more focused. For Supreme Court briefs, FindLaw’s Supreme Court Center at http://supreme.lp.findlaw.com/supreme_court/briefs has briefs beginning with the 1999-2000 term. You can download them for free in various formats. American Law Sources On-Line at www.lawsource.com/also/usa.cgi?usb does not provide direct copies of briefs, but has assembled a useful collection of links to amicus curiae briefs available elsewhere on the Web. These include briefs filed in state and federal courts. The Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law maintains a brief bank devoted to law, technology and public policy. Its broad-ranging collection of briefs filed in U.S. courts is organized by case name. It can be found at http://briefbank.samuelsonclinic.org/notices.cfm. More than 250 state and federal briefs covering a range of topics are available from Appellate.net at www.appellate.net/ briefs. All were written by lawyers in the Supreme Court and appellate practice group of Chicago-based Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw. Briefs are listed by case and subject matter and include citations to the appellate decision. Stanford Law School’s Securities Class Action Clearinghouse, http://securities.stanford.edu, maintains an archive of filings in federal class action securities fraud litigation. Its collection includes more than 2,000 litigation documents, including briefs. Court archives A growing number of appellate courts are publishing the briefs they receive on the Internet. These include two U.S. circuit courts of appeals: the 7th Circuit at www.ca7.uscourts.gov/briefs.htm and the 8th Circuit at www.ca8.uscourts.gov/ brfs/brFrame.html. The 7th Circuit site has briefs filed with the court beginning in 2001. The 8th Circuit begins with cases filed in 2000. Briefs filed in a handful of state supreme courts are also available: Florida at www.flcourts.org/pubinfo/ summaries/archives.html. Kentucky at www.nku.edu/~chase/ library/kysctbriefs.htm. North Dakota at www.court.state.nd.us. Texas at www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/ebrief/current.htm. Wisconsin at http://library.law.wisc.edu/elecresources/databases/wb. Also, the federal government is one of the best sources of free legal briefs. The legal documents collection of the U.S. Department of Justice at www.usdoj.gov/05publications/05_2.html includes all Supreme Court briefs filed by the solicitor general since 1988 and selected briefs beginning in 1982. It also includes a wide-ranging collection of appellate briefs filed by the department’s antitrust division dating back to 1993, along with selected briefs filed by the civil division and the civil rights division. Other federal entities that publish their briefs on the Web are: Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/ogc/briefs.htm. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at www.eeoc.gov/litigation/ appbriefs.html. U.S. Office of Special Counsel at www.osc.gov/sitemap.htm. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission at www.sec.gov/litigation/ briefs.shtml. Advocacy groups Advocacy organizations publish briefs filed in cases in which they appeared as parties or as amicus curiae. One of the best examples is the Electronic Frontier Foundation at www.eff.org, the San Francisco-based organization devoted to protecting civil liberties in cyberspace. It maintains extensive collections of legal documents from cases in which it has been involved, including its own briefs and those of its opponents. Another is the American Civil Liberties Union at www.aclu.org. Follow the link, “In the Courts,” for a library of documents related to Supreme Court cases in which the ACLU played a role dating back to 1994. The library also includes a number of briefs filed by the ACLU as amicus curiae and in other courts. Other groups with briefs on their sites include: American Association of Law Libraries at www.ll.georgetown.edu/aallwash/briefs.html. Selected amicus curiae briefs filed since 1997. American Intellectual Property Law Association at www.aipla.org/html/ amicus.html. Amicus briefs since 1995. Anti-Defamation League at www.adl.org/Civil_Rights/ab. Amicus briefs in cases involving issues that range from the separation of church and state to racial discrimination to censorship. Atlantic Legal Foundation at www.atlanticlegal.org/briefs.html. This site contains amicus briefs on issues that include courtroom science, charter schools and reverse discrimination. Cato Institute at www.cato.org/pubs/legalbriefs/lbriefs.html. The briefs cover a range of issues, including race-based preferences, school vouchers, drug testing and interstate commerce. Center for Democratic Communications at www.nlgcdc.org/briefs.html. This arm of the National Lawyers Guild has briefs related to Federal Communications Commission licensing of low-power radio transmissions. Children’s Rights at www.childrensrights.org/publications. Electronic Privacy Information Center at www.epic.org. Briefs on free speech and privacy. Harvard University Civil Rights Project at www.civilrightsproject.harvard.edu/policy/legal_docs/legal_briefs.php. Briefs related to affirmative action and race-conscious admissions. Institute for Justice at www.ij.org/ cases/school/facts/body.shtml. Its School Choice Information Center has briefs on both sides of the issue. Jewish Law at www.jlaw.com/briefs. A collection of briefs filed by various Jewish organizations. Lambda Legal at www.lambdalegal.org/cgi-bin/iowa/library?class=5. Briefs on issues of interest to lesbians and gays. NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund at www.nowldef.org/html/issues/ whr/briefs.shtml. Briefs related to women’s rights. Public Citizen at www.citizen.org/ litigation/briefs. This consumer organization founded by Ralph Nader in 1971 provides briefs on corporate accountability, union democracy, consumer rights, health and safety, and other topics.

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