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An effective way to provide easy access to case materials and produce a fuller picture of the court’s work is through an integrated calendar.
Many courts feature schedules for oral arguments or opinion releases on their websites, but an integrated calendar unifies the release of several streams of information in one place, making them easier for visitors to find and access.
A primary virtue of integrated calendars is that they can place several of the information sources highlighted in some of the above practices in the same place and organize them in a coherent way that will be familiar to almost all visitors to the court’s site.
North Dakota’s website features an oral argument calendar (below) that allows a visitor to view a given month’s scheduled arguments (it only appears to cover the current year), then see materials for each case.
The calendar is also searchable via term and “free text” in the event that a visitor doesn’t know the argument date, but the basic organization of the materials is chronological, permitting a visitor to see the extent and breadth of the high court’s work in context.
The calendar can also be seen without frames:
The pages for individual cases on North Dakota’s site provide an impressive collection of information and background. Each page lists the case number and title, nature of the action, counsel for each party and the statement of issues from each side. Because the site is database driven, it also automatically links to various supporting documents, including the lower court’s opinion, docket, briefs, an audio file of the oral argument (if it has occurred) and a brief summary of the case itself.
The calendar on West Virginia’s redesigned site dispenses with the calendar template in favor of a smoother, more modern-looking design that highlights daily activities by week.
Argument days provide a link to a page with a case summary, briefs and other supporting documents related to the cases argued that day.
And, if you prefer a traditional calendar, West Virginia also offers a PDF of an at-a-glance yearlong calendar that provides a look at the court’s events:
Indiana’s newly redesigned site includes a calendar that integrates news items and press releases with oral argument document information. The calendar can be viewed by day, week, month or year. It also offers a number of filtering options and a keyword search.
When hovering over an item, a pop-up box appears with more information about the event:
In addition to providing case summaries or event overviews, the pop-up also gives users the ability to sign up for email notifications about the event, add the event to their calendar or email the event to a friend. Users also may subscribe to the entire calendar via email or RSS feed or download the calendar in a variety of file formats.
A model for state court websites that combines several features above is the new website of the United States Supreme Court. Benefiting from a mock-up redesign from the Sunlight Foundation, the nation’s highest court recently updated its website throughout, placing a calendar on its front page.
The calendar feature allows a user to jump forward or back by year or month and uses color-coding to identify days for argument, conference, other work days and holidays. Clicking on an argument day opens a frame with a list of cases scheduled for that day, each of which is itself a link to a docket for the case and questions presented.
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