Check out Virginia Decoded. It’s a new presentation of that state’s code aimed at making it easier for ordinary human beings to get access to the laws that govern them. Virginia Decoded is the first state to get to beta in The State Decoded program, a private, not-for-profit venture. The legal material is provided by the state via LexisNexis, which marks it up with SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language), enabling the Decoded folks to manipulate it appropriately.
Canadians used to CanLII may be a trifle blasé, or even smug, about this development. It is the case that Americans are having a difficult time providing free access in a useful way to their laws, lacking an initiative like the Federation of Law Societies’ CanLII, which is supported by all Canadian lawyers and Quebec notaries. But Virginia Decoded presents legislation attractively — choosing to use large type — and provides opportunity for viewers to record comments (using DISQUS) after each portion of the code. This latter is a bold step and I wonder how they’ll keep the bile, let alone the noise, down. As well, the willingness of LexisNexis to add value this way is enviable — and admirable. All in all, worth watching.
So congratulations Virginia Decoded. Looks good.