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Teaching Edited vs. Unedited Judicial Opinions

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6 Responses

  1. Without getting into the full substance of the question, I will say that casebooks should never remove the procedural posture from a case. Maybe it can be edited down into just a sentence, but it needs to be in there. David’s point about the value of repetition of the “basics” is nowhere truer than in the basics of procedure.

  2. Pen Wong says:

    hello.

    while the NY Times links their (ordinary) readers to findlaw.com, i can’t see why can’t let students read unedited opinion.

    p.s. i’m reading US v Williams

  3. Marisa says:

    I don’t mind slogging through unedited cases if it means that that I can save $100 to $200 per course by not buying a case book. Instead, I can print the cases off at school from the free Lexis/Westlaw printers. I was very grateful to the Professor Post for allowing us to do that this past semester.

  4. Ariella says:

    I had no issue with edited opinions in case books when I was in law school, but noted that sometimes the editors may have removed too much. In cases where I went to the full opinion for more clarity, I sometimes found that the editors had removed some of the court’s reasoning or analysis — which ended up being important to me as a reader.

    On the other hand, if including full opinions in case books would increase the cost, I would say stick to the edited opinions. If a student doesn’t understand, he or she can go to the full text on Westlaw/Lexis or ask the professor for more clarification.

  5. Eric Alan Isaacson says:

    It’s tempting to blame long-winded opinions on computers and word-processing systems. But some of the longest and most redundant opinions I’ve read are old ones. Take, for example, Hale v. Everett, 53 N.H. 9, 1868 N.H. LEXIS 47 (1868), which just goes on, and on, and on, and on. Law students probably should have to slog through an opinion or two like Hale – - that they might better appreciate the editorial skill that goes into producing a good case book.

  6. Eric Alan Isaacson says:

    It’s tempting to blame long-winded opinions on computers and word-processing systems. But some of the longest and most redundant opinions I’ve read are old ones. Take, for example, Hale v. Everett, 53 N.H. 9, 1868 N.H. LEXIS 47 (1868), which just goes on, and on, and on, and on. Law students probably should have to slog through an opinion or two like Hale – - that they might better appreciate the editorial skill that goes into producing a good case book.