Tag: laws

by Michael Lissner

If computers were preschoolers, they wouldn't be very popular students. They don't like to share their data, they don't usually talk to anybody, and they can be a little bit obnoxious if you don't give them what they want. Computers with government data on them would likely be even less popular. Those computers really don't [...] more »

by Waldo Jaquith

The basic concept behind The State Decoded is both simple and obvious: Create a platform to display laws in a nice, understandable way, using the data already present in those laws. So why hadn’t anybody done it before? Because it’s too hard to do perfectly. The State Decoded is not perfect, by design. Its definition [...] more »

by John Berryman

State codes are wretched. Seriously, look at a few from: California, New York, Illinois, and Texas. They are all good examples of how stunningly difficult it is to understand state laws. They don’t have APIs. Virtually none have bulk downloads. You’re stuck with their crude offerings. The State Decoded is a platform that displays state codes, court decisions, and information [...] more »

by Waldo Jaquith

On Greater Greater Washington, Tom MacWright recently wrote a blog entry highlighting the problems of access to the Washington, D.C. Code. There is, first, a legal obstacle: Washington D.C. claims copyright over their laws, which is to say that it is illegal to reproduce them without permission of the city. Then, second, what is perhaps [...] more »

by Waldo Jaquith

The State Decoded project is putting U.S. state laws online, making them easy to search, understand and navigate. Our laws are organized badly, but The State Decoded is reorganizing them automatically, connecting people with the legal information they need with the ease of a Google search. In implementing many of the features necessary to provide [...] more »

by Waldo Jaquith

A rich source of information about laws is found in the history data that accompanies each law in most states, but you’ve probably never noticed it. For example, Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act has a series of exemptions spelled out in § 2.2-3705.1 which has a cryptic series of numbers listed below the law, in [...] more »

by Waldo Jaquith

State laws are written for and by attorneys. While that might make for a good legal system, it sure makes them hard for regular people to understand. There’s code law — what law books are full of — and then there’s case law, which is how the laws are actually interpreted by courts. Every time [...] more »