The Documentalist

HURIDOCS & IHRDA Collaborate on Caselaw Analyzer

Posted in Reviews, technology by Sarah on November 17, 2010

HURIDOCS has been working with the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) to develop a on-line tool called the Caselaw Analyzer, which will allow IHRDA (and other groups in the future) to “easily browse inter-related court decisions, to quickly access the primary caselaw for a given type of [human rights] violation, to highlight and comment relevant sections of a decision, and to share their commentary with their colleagues and work collaboratively on case research” (see the full description of the program and project here).  The goal of the project was to help IHRDA have quick access to both the body of court decisions the organization has collected from the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), and to provide a means of quickly and efficiently accessing caselaw research lawyers have already done in order to apply that research to new cases that the organization takes on.  You can access IHRDA’s Caselaw Analyzer connection here.  As stated in HURIDOCS’ description of the program, there is a particular challenge associated with using and managing caselaw that this new program will help organizations like IHRDA address:

Court decisions often reference specific paragraphs of other decisions, which in turn reference other decisions. Caselaw Analyser allows you to easily navigate from one decision to the next. And because it uses inline-browsing to jump stright to the quoted paragraph, you don’t even lose your page. Also, all incoming and outgoing citations are listed next to the text of the decision.

Also, CaseLaw Analyser will use a specifically designed CaseRank algorythm, meaning that the decisions that are the most often referenced, will appear first (like Google’s PageRank). This gives the user an indication of which cases are the most important: the primary caselaw.

In addition to assisting in the organization and management of such data, in the future, the program will also offer a social networking and collaboration feature that will allow multiple individuals within an organization to develop a case together on-line.  This feature will permit organization members working over a broad geographic area to consolidate notes, caselaw, and opinions as they develop new cases.


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