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Embedding Hyperlinks in Court Filings: A Great Leap Forward

I recently received a notice from the Eastern District of Washington’s electronic filing system saying I can now file documents with hyperlinks to other documents within the system. This means I can file a brief that cites to my witness’ declaration and make that testimony accessible with a click.

The Eastern District promotes this feature by saying: “Hyperlinks are very helpful to the judges because it make it much easier to review documents in support of a filing.”

This would seem to be a no-brainer — whatever makes things easier for the court is well worth doing.

The training manual says filers can link to:

  • Previously-filed documents in the same case;
  • Previously-filed documents that reside in the court’s CM/ECF database;
  • Previously-filed documents that reside in other courts’ CM/ECF databases; and
  • Documents being filed as attachments to a current filing.

The only catch is filers must verify their hyperlinks work, as broken links don’t do anyone much good.

Litigators constantly strive to get their point across. A big part of that is making things simple. In the Eastern District at least, there’s now no need for clerks and judges to hunt down your client’s testimony. They can get there simply by clicking on a hyperlink in your brief. 

The next step hopefully will enable filers to link case citations with case text.

While this would seem to create more production work on the front-end, it should give judges more time to focus on what counts: your evidence; your arguments. It seems like a great leap forward.

Posted on March 23, 2009 by Registered CommenterMichael Atkins in | Comments2 Comments

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Reader Comments (2)

Every time I use a hyperlink in blogging I think of how much easier doing so is than recapitulating an argument or part of the factual record, and then adding the citation or "annexed hereto as Exhibit Q" in legal writing.

So this is a great link forward!
March 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRon Coleman
Thanks for this information. Now we can start bugging other Districts to do the same, right?
March 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaty Sheehan

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