Google claims it is empowering the average US citizen by bolstering its Google Scholar search application and making legal opinions from US state and federal district, supreme and appellate courts fully searchable and free online.
Google made the announcement Tuesday on its official Google blog, where the staff from Silicon Valley declared the new service would enable lawyers and non-lawyers alike to simply access opinions by searching via case names or topics of interest.
The bolstered legal search also allows users to explore how opinions have influenced later decisions by using "Cited by" and "Related article" links supplied on the search page results.
The developers at Google said they were surprised by how readily accessible the opinions actually were. "Court opinions don't just describe a decision but also present the reasons that support the decision," Anurag Acharya, a "distinguished engineer" at Google wrote.
"In doing so, they explain the intricacies of law in the context of real-life situations. And they often do it in language that is surprisingly straightforward, even for those of us outside the legal profession."
Acharya added that Google is eliminating the difficulties that average citizens face in finding and reading landmark decisions. "We think that's a problem: Laws that you don't know about, you can't follow - or make effective arguments to change," he wrote.