Look Who Cited To Justia For Supreme Court Holding.
[UPDATE: Sat. Oct 29, 2011, 8:46 AM – Cindy Simpson weighs in on JustiaGate, top story at American Thinker.]
There’s a bogus astroturfing mantra going ’round the blogosphere which sounds something like this, “No real lawyer would ever use an online web site like Justia.” The talking point is thoroughly debunked by a very powerful legal source. Ever heard of Perkins Coie? They are the law firm which defended Obama in eligibility suits before he was elected. Ever heard of Bob Bauer? He is a partner in Perkins Coie and was General Counsel of Obama For America 2008, then White House Counsel, and is now back in private practice as Obama’s personal attorney to lead the charge in the 2012 election.
Perkins Coie is as powerful and shrewd a law firm as has ever existed and hey, what do you know kids, their mega influential legal blog cited to Justia in an article published there on June 28, 2010, “Business Methods Patents Survive, But Not Bilski’s Patent“:
“The next key decision was Parker v. Flook, 437 U.S. 584 (1978). The process claims there involved a practical application (updating the value of an alarm limit for ending a chemical reaction), but the only novel feature of the process was the specific manner in which the alarm limit was calculated…
So much for the “real lawyers don’t use online web sites like Justia” try. Perkins Coie certainly did. Now, post JustiaGate… not so much.
Lawyers, when going before a judge must Shepardize their cases. This is done via two paid online services, Lexis and Westlaw. If you cite a case without “Shepping” it, you risk not knowing whether the case has been questioned, followed or overruled.
But many lawyers are also bloggers and commentators. They appreciate the easy access of Justia for such tasks as well as initial research for a client, superior or associate. Justia was absolutely trusted by the legal community to return accurate judicial opinions.
The entire legal research aspect of the site was created for that very purpose. Justia isn’t some fly by night operation. Tim Stanley was the big man on campus championing free online research. And Justia has been universally praised by attorneys and law schools for its free publication of Supreme Court cases and other federal legal documents.
Robert Ambrogi’s “LawSites” blog post, “Justia Does FindLaw One Better“, reported that Justia had, right out of the box, taken the place of Findlaw on the web as a predominant online legal resource in Feb. 2007:
“Look at Justia’s front page today and one is reminded of the FindLaw of old. More to the point, Justia today is becoming every bit as valuable as a legal portal as FindLaw once was.”
A Lewis and Clark Law School blog elaborated on Ambrogi’s praise as follows:
“Add in the very-Web 2.0 addition of search links to related dockets, news, blogs, and websites, and you find a fantastic one-stop source of information given very many thumbs up by the very many editors of BoleyBlogs!”
The University of Wisconsin Law School stated the following adoration of Justia in Oct. 2007:
“Justia, a relatively new legal portal, is quickly becoming an indispensable research tool.”
The Mass Law Blog, written by Lee Gesmer of Gesmer Updegrove LLP, hyped Justia for its ability to follow federal cases via RSS feeds back in Oct. 2008:
“Assume you’re interested in Jones Day v. Blockshopper, pending in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois: Go to Justia.com and click on the link US District Courts’ civil case filings. You can search for the docket of any federal district court case to find the case in Justia.”
AUDIO INTERVIEW CONCERNING THE TECH DESIGN OF JUSTIA FROM JAN. 2007
Justia CEO Tim Stanley gave a 21 minute podcast interview to Ken Chan of “Law And Legal Research” in Jan. ’07 after Tim was awarded the Google Enterprise Search Superstar award. In that interview, Stanley was asked who Justia was created to benefit. Here is Stanley’s candid reply:
Stanley: The primary users of it tend to be lawyers or attorneys looking for legal information or looking for case-law, or looking for information from some of the legal blogs that are online. And the other sort of major group of users tends to be law students or other students in the college environment or high schools that are looking for information on the US Government and sort of how the court system works.
Chan: The homepage, if you will, mentions the indexing of all of the Supreme Court cases… What would you say is the primary piece of information that somebody is coming to your web site to find, or is there one? Is it a wide basis of information or is there a particular type of information that somebody is coming to find?
Stanley: In most cases they’re looking for a variety of types of legal information. There is a large percentage though that are looking for Supreme Court information, and looking at particular Supreme Court cases. And one of the nice things we’ve done using the Google Mini is we’ve indexed all the Supreme Court cases, and we have a nice sort of inter-linking among the cases, so you can go from one case, you know, quickly link over to a previous case. And the Google algorithm when it’s indexing the cases does a very good job in terms of prioritizing the cases based on those that sort of have more value to the legal community.
Stanley tells us that the primary users are lawyers, not lay people. Also, keep in mind that when he gave this interview in ’07, none of the cases had been sabotaged yet. The cases were in the database with full case names, citations, and no text had been removed.
Now examine what Google says about their Google Mini plug and play search engine device:
“Unlike high-maintenance systems that require frequent tweaking and recalibrating and that overwhelm systems administrators with constant demands for attention, the Google Mini doesn’t need a tech support baby-sitter. You simply plug it in, configure it, and let it run. The Google Mini does the rest, freeing tech support personnel to fulfill their primary task – supporting their users…
No manual document tagging or search customization required. Google believes the technology itself should do the heavy lifting – not you, the administrator. To that end, Google’s search relevance technology automatically considers over 100 different factors when determining search results, eliminating the need for costly and confusing manual search customization.
Sounds marvelous, easy and totally bitchin’, and that’s what Stanley thinks too:
Chan: When you initially made the decision to install a search engine on the site, did you have another technology that you were using, or was the Google your first choice? Where did you come from?
Stanley: … The key for us was really the simplicity of getting it up and going. So it was extremely easy for us just to plug and play it, plug and play the Google Mini, point it to our database and immediately index it, as well as the quality of the search results. So, the algorithm in terms of producing relevant results based on the user’s query is much higher than most of the other search engine technology we’ve used. And if you combine that with the ease of use, or ease of set up, it was a simple decision for us…
Chan: What problems were you solving when you had to make the simple decision?
Stanley: We needed to get about, over, I’d say somewhere around 75,000 documents indexed relatively quickly, like within a couple of weeks and make sure we had the full interface for it and sort of everything else ready to go. And what was sort of driving that was we wanted to have a release of the Supreme Court Center by the time that the court opened last October.
And for us, when we looked at some different alternatives, like doing some of our own programming, or using some of the other search technologies out there, the Google Mini, you know, from our standpoint was just a very simple to use easy solution. We could just install it, index all the data, pull back the data, change the style sheets a little bit, and it just worked. And so that was really one of the driving forces for us. Just as important though to us was the quality of the search results, being able to pull back the relevant documents when people did searches.
Chan: You mentioned the crawling algorithms a couple of times. Did you have to configure those or did you use the ones out of the box? How did you do that?
Stanley: We pretty much used the ones out of the box. We did a little bit of, sort of additional programming, in terms of getting some searches across the party names of the cases. So there was some additional work that we did there. And a little bit of work on the citations searches, most of which were relatively straight forward, very quick text searches. But as far as the full text goes, the full text searching goes, that was all done with the Google Mini. And then we pulled that result back up, pulled that back to our servers, and we repackaged it with some style sheets that combine in the citation and party name searches into one overall search result. (Emphasis added.)
Let me break in to point out that this candid statement back in Jan. ’07 appears to disprove Stanley’s recent claim that a “Regex” error was responsible for all of the alleged sabotage. The only tweaking of the Justia search engine undertaken by Stanley’s team concerned very “straight forward” programming pertaining to the party names and citations, but Google Mini was solely responsible – according to Stanley – for full text searching.
Therefore, Stanley’s recent comments given to CNET are further called to question, since, in some of the cases, entire sentences of the Court’s opinion were removed. If Justia programmers didn’t mess with the full text searches, why were specific portions of the text removed?
“The ease of just getting it done and not having to worry about it was huge.”
Stanley: The main key I think for us is, how can we optimize our engineering resources. Because we have quite a few programmers, it’s very much a, sort of a computer programming-centric organization. And we really want to focus on things that are unique, and that we need to program. And to the extent that we can get plug and play elements like the Google Mini in place that will save some of our programming time, that allows us to do many more projects and go much quicker.
Chan: That is the answer I was looking for. If you look at any of the implementations that we’ve talked about with the Google Mini, we’ve found that it really gets down to, I need a quality competent search engine, and I don’t have a lot of time, and I don’t have a lot of resources to spend on that project because I’ve got a lot of other things that I want to work on. And it sounds to me like that solved that problem for you.
Stanley: Yeah, I mean absolutely. I mean, basically, and I can’t really sort of understate this, since we’ve spent lots of time building you know, or I’ve spent lots of time with other search engines and building different search products, the ease of use of just getting it done and not having to worry about it is huge. And then again, the other item I always come back to is that the quality of the search results is very very high.
The JFK Magic Bullet Theory Aint Got Nothin’ On Justia’s Rogue Regex Anti-Birther Error Theory.
All of the cases were working just fine with no sabotage before, during and after this interview (for at least one full year). Then suddenly, miraculously even for the lucky Obama, Tim Stanley’s wonderful search engine powered by Google Mini went nuts on him. His lame excuse that a mysterious coding error was to blame for the precise sabotage of 25 cases citing Minor v. Happersett, the only US Supreme Court case to have directly construed the natural-born citizen clause in the context of a citizenship precedent (by a unanimous court) suddenly became birtherproof… by accident and with no human intervention whatsoever.
You know, I might believe this if Chris Angel worked for Justia. Tim Stanley? Wait for it… noz sew mutch.
Tim claims that the alleged innocent mistake is responsible for the surgical removal of the case name, “Minor v. Happersett”, along with the official citation… across all 25 cases. We are also asked to believe that various references to The Slaughter-House Cases, Scott v. Sandford and Osborn v. Bank of United States were also innocently removed by the same error, despite the fact that those cases are all tied to the POTUS eligibility debate.
Furthermore, key sentences which discuss points of law relevant to Obama’s eligibility must have also been innocently edited out, even though Stanley stated to Chan in ’07 that Justia didn’t do any programming at all with regard to the full text of the cases. Additionally, we must also accept that at the time of this interview, the miraculously wonderful Google Mini was banging out perfect versions of these cases up until the run up to the election in 2008… when all 25 cases suddenly expunged necessary search terms specifically tied to the POTUS eligibility issue. Timing is everything, right?
But there’s more… we must also imagine that Stanley’s crack “programming-centric” team, headquartered in the same town as the mighty Google, somehow never found out about the rogue code from 2008 until three years later when I published my first report on the Pope and Boyd cases in July 2011. Can you believe Tim never even wrote to say thank you? A nice picture of Stanley’s dog was called for at the very least. Oh c’mon. Like I’m going to beat those Silicon Valley freaks to the punch on their own damn code. Get the flock outta here.
But there’s still more…much much more you have to swallow to buy Stanley’s rogue error theory. You must also accept that the “Regex” error could defy astronomical odds in that the “.*” mentioned by Stanley could pick and choose erasure of the missing case components while the rest of the text was left just fine. And that’s where Dianna Cotter’s next report will come in very handy tomorrow. She has interviewed a university professor with a Ph.D. in computer programming who has gone on the record to say that Stanley’s theory is nuts.
Eventually, the computer programming community is going to take Stanley down for this crap. And the legal research community will follow suit. This story is not going away. Just as the dual nationality issue has now over-taken the BC issue, JustiaGate is here to stay and on this point scientific minds will prevail. The silicon whiz kidz are not going to stand by Justia. The techy punk rockers, hackers, Google nerds… etc. all will know that Stanley’s story is BS.
Folks, you have the evidence you need to protect the Constitution. And the stakes are as high as they come. It’s really up to you out on Main Street. If you are lazy with this, the Constitution may never recover. Mark my words. A full investigation needs to take place.
The Congress was complicit in not vetting the candidates. But Justia has given them an out of epic proportions in that Justia’s bogus cases changed the national dialogue. If Congress was fooled by Justia (and perhaps this plays into that CRS memo on eligibility which is being looked into more carefully now), they have another chance to make it right.
Protest is in the air. The movement on the streets is supposed to be about ending secrecy and forcing the powers that be to come clean. Tim Stanley made $37 million creating databases from our national body of case law. Then his company took criminal liberties with that body of law, sabotaged the living hell out of it, and probably changed national history in the process too. You want to talk about the 1% vs the 99? Here’s a textbook example, kids. Right on! Power to the people. Occupy Justia.
That being said, I can only imagine what kind of pressure Tim Stanley is under right now. He almost certainly did not undertake this sabotage on his own initiation. Tim Stanley is now in the very scary position of holding the evidence capable of putting Obama’s administration in true jeopardy. If Stanley was asked, forced or paid to sabotage the cases and/or to maintain them that way after Obama became President, then high crimes were committed. Therefore, Quo Warranto is not the only possible option on the table any longer.
Impeachment is now in play.
by Leo Donofrio, Esq.
Hat tip to Dianna Cotter for finding the Perkins Coie cite to Justia.