6 Trends L. Libr. Mgmt. & Tech. 4 (1994-1995)
Hermes in Cyberspace: Electronic Delivery of U.S. Supreme Court Opinions

handle is hein.journals/ttllmt6 and id is 12 raw text is: Hermes in Cyberspace: Electronic
Delivery of U.S. Supreme Court
By GENIE TyBuRsKi, Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll'

I magine a social party attended by lawyers, law students,
and law librarians. Laughter resounds. The clinking
of wine glasses echoes throughout the room. Friends and
acquaintances exchange warm greetings.
A pause in conversation causes a librarian and her com-
panions to overhear a student in a neighboring group
mention Project Hermes. Recognizing the phrase, the
ensuing discussion captures their attention.
A lawyer in the group asks, Project Hermes? The stu-
dent responds, It has something to do with U.S. Supreme
Court opinions on Internet. I heard about it from an
e-mail discussion group.
Yes, a librarian silently agrees. But both LEXIS and
WESTLAW make the decisions available shortly after their
release, she thinks. Why should I retrieve them from
The lawyer remarks, Internet. I've seen a lot of arti-
cles about that lately. Wall Street Journal. New York Times.
They say it's difficult to use.
Difficult, the librarian whispers to a friend who nods
silently in agreement, Every time I hold my breath, exe-
cute my turn signal, and merge with Internet traffic, I
either bump into something or lose my way! Tuning in
again to the conversation, they hear the word free.
Free? the lawyer asks for confirmation. Joining the
conversation, an enthusiast responds, Yes. Absolutely
free. Well, that is, after you pay for your Internet sub-
The librarian muses, I've subscribed. Everybody says
it's absolutely essential. 'The Internet is the prelude to
future communication,' they say. Free Supreme Court
opinions. Hmm.
The conversation continues, Where do I find them?
How do I print them? What do they look like? A slip
opinion? Dual columns? Word-processed? Are they key-
word searchable? Coming together, the group looks to
the enthusiast for answers.
Permit me to assume the role of the enthusiast. In
return, I will answer these questions as well as offer some
thoughts about using Internet over LEXIS or WESTLAW.
But I warn the reader not to allow my enthusiasm to
lead him astray. For most, becoming a proficient Internet
user requires a commitment of time and energy, and an

absolute inability to recognize defeat. In other words,
after each wrong turn, breakdown, or traffic jam, you
return for more. Some might think such determination
stupid, but I like to think of it as an initiation period
where reward for persistence outweighs frustrations
encountered along the way.
Initiation period notwithstanding, no one should have
to waste time reinventing the wheel. Because I have
doggedly pursued U.S. Supreme Court opinions on the
Net while encountering most detours erected, I drew a
roadmap delineating smooth paths and underscoring
roadblocks, which I pass along as a ticket entitling the
holder to a less eventful induction.
Destination Due... Where?!?
Where does one find U.S. Supreme Court opinions on
Like much information on the Net, several paths lead
to Project Hermes. But which route offers direct reliable
access? Which provides assistance for novice travellers,
or advanced techniques for expert users?
For fast, reliable, and easy access to U.S. Supreme Court
documents, I recommend the Cornell Legal Informa-
tion Institute (LII) Web site. Web, a popular name for
World Wide Web, also known as WWW or 3W, is an intel-
ligent software product that utilizes hypertext links. The
term hypertext refers to a data type document that con-
tains links to other textual data.
To navigate the links and read the hypertext docu-
ment, one must use browser software such as Mosaic or
Lynx. Mosaic, a powerful interface, possesses advanced
features that work well with hypermedia; that is, data
types that contain or link text, sound, and images. Lynx
works solely with hypertext.
Since Project Hermes documents contain only text,
use of Lynx to navigate the Cornell Web is sufficient. To
initiate the connection, enter the URL,2 http://wrw.law.cor-
nell.edu/supct/opinionlist.1993.htmL This particular URL
connects to the LII menu for current opinions. To bypass
the menu and move directly to the current month's
opinions, enter the URL, http://www.law.cornell.edu/
supct/supct. [month]. 1994.html, where [month] equals the
unabbreviated name of the current month.

4 Trends / September 1994

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