Project Posner

Columbia law prof (and McGill B.Sc. grad) Timothy Wu has put all of Judge Richard Posner‘s 2000 plus opinions into an online database that’s searchable at Project Posner. Why, you might ask. Putting costly Westlaw aside, surely there are plenty of other sources from which an interested American might get the Posner mot if wanted.

Bizarrely, it just ain’t so.

Cornell’s Legal Information Institute — the mother-ship LII — sends a seeker straight to court, not via Go and not getting any bucks at all, as it happens. The LII link to the opinions of the 7th Circuit appeal court, which is where Judge Posner hangs his hat, goes directly to that court’s website, where one discovers that to find any opinion at all one has to know the name of a party or a case number.

Unless I’ve missed something — which has been known to happen more than once — until Wu did what he’s done, no one could have had online access to Posner’s judgments without paying top dollar. This in the world’s richest country.

Wu says that this effort is only the beginning of a bigger project.

Canadians should be very grateful indeed for the wonderful CanLII and all of the courts and other institutions that, well, promulgate our laws in ways that make sense in this day and age. So it turns out to be a Canadian Thanksgiving post after all.


  1. Of course Judge Posner (and Professor Posner before him) has scarcely had an unpublished thought. The word prolific used to be reserved for George Woodcock, the Canadian critic and anarchist thinker who published somewhere between 120 and 150 books, several hundred essays, 2 dozen radio plays, and scores of talks and reviews in his lifetime.
    But Posner even blogs: