Mass Law Blog

Project Posner

by | Oct 13, 2006

Tim Wu and Stuart Sierra, a Columbia Law School professor and web designer respectively, have launched Project Posner, a web site offering unheard of access to Judge Richard A. Posner‘s legal opinions, in searchable format. And yes, the creators — who are certainly not alone in this view — pronounce that “Richard Posner is probably the greatest living American jurist.”

If, however, you still find yourself wondering: why should I care?, Project Posner has you covered. Project Posner offers the following explanation for its existence:

… While Posner’s books and popular writings are easily available to the public, his opinions are difficult or expensive for the public to access, let alone search. This site, for the first time, collects almost all of his opinions in a single searchable and easily readable database.

For lawyers and those interested in law, Posner’s opinions have a particular substantive value. One thing that distinguishes the opinions is the effort to try and get at why a given law actually exists, and an effort to try and make sense of the law. That can make them more useful than most case reports.

In addition, the opinions often develop the American general and state common law. Posner is among the judges who feels free to take the rule of Erie as more suggestion than injunction.

Finally, some of the opinions are funny.

If you’re still not satisfied (or you’d like to learn more about Judge Posner), take a look at his University of Chicago Law School faculty biography, his personal site, the Becker-Posner blog (maintained jointly with Gary S. Becker, American economist and winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize) or see what Wikipedia has to say. Posner’s professional accomplishments are second to none and his writings are as diverse as they are prolific. Notwithstanding, the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. And this is why Project Posner is a gold mine where the digging is easy.

Update: all of the websites highlighted above have stopped publishing or faded into history