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Scraping Historical Judgments Reports as Case Reference for Legal Purposes

July 23, 2019Category : Blog
Scraping Historical Judgments Reports as Case Reference for Legal Purposes

Last Updated on by Tarun

Having a complete picture and knowing the entire truth is imperative for a lawyer arguing a case in court. He/she should not only make arguments to build their case but also try to draw similarities with Historical Judgments Reports. This would make it much easier to convince the judge or the jury because usually, judgments on cases set a precedent for all succeeding cases.  

Drawing parallels between cases is something almost every lawyer does, but then the research required for being able to draw parallels and come up with similar cases is a long and arduous journey. Most lawyers need to spend hours and days trying to find similar cases in the past where the verdict had gone in the direction that would be in their favor. 

If a lawyer can prove without a doubt that the case he is arguing is very similar to a historic case, then the judge or the jury would be forced to give a similar ruling, unless the laws in context have themselves changed. 

One of the benefits of digitizing court records would be the ease of getting documents and other requirements ready through the help of existing reports. Countries like India are taking to the digitization of cases so that less time is spent in creating copies of paperwork. This way cases can be tracked and solved faster. 

Governments are driving digitization efforts

Digitization of court cases is being undertaken in many states and countries all over the world. Since law and order is a state subject in most democratic countries, states are slowly coming forward to build infrastructure to digitize court cases in their region. While the growth is slow and fragmented,  the pace is steady and the day when almost all data related to historic cases will be available on the internet is not far off. Every country is starting their own websites to give a platform to all those who seek to gather knowledge of historic cases in their land. Below, we have provided links for some popular country-wise platforms containing historic court-cases data:

United Kingdom

USA

India

Governments all over the world have been trying to make different departments more efficient through digitization.

Types of data to collect from previous cases

When we talk about digitized records of court cases, we are not just talking about rulings, judgments, and sentencing. While the final verdict and the sentence are important, there are even more important data that can come handy. Arguments both for and against can help lawyers prepare for their case. The arguments in their favor can be used to build up their case while the arguments against can be used to prepare for similar questions and arguments. 

One could also be ready for the paths which a case can take when going through several similar cases that have taken place earlier. Conviction statements from previous judgments can be used to demand a lighter or a heavier sentence. The type of questions asked to witnesses can help lawyers decide on their line of questioning.

Arguments can also be made for or against police action or inaction by drawing parallels with how the police handled similar cases.

Gathering data related to old cases

Gathering data manually is a task fraught with risks. It is only because of the digitization of data that scrapers can finally gather data related to historic or even current cases throughout the world, and create a usable database for lawyers or law firms that can help them fight cases and help their clients much better. No matter how good a lawyer is, or how many cases he can remember in his brain, he can never have the memory of a machine. That is why, having a scraper at your service to gather all data from similar cases is something irreplaceable and can become an extra arrow in the quiver of an experienced lawyer, or a path of learning for an amateur one.

The steps to gather historic data related to cases from the web are as follows-

  1. Create a list of websites that need to be scrapped.
  2. Create a regex for webpages in those sites containing case-related data.
  3. Scrape data and store region-wise (The same type of case might find different type of judgments in different countries, or even in different states).
  4. Make sure data is stored in structured formats.
  5. Capture data points such as – arguments, judgments, witness details, the evidence submitted, conviction and sentencing.
  6. Make sure data is getting stored chronologically.

DaaS providers can help you fight your cases

Such historic data related to court cases can help law firms the most since they may have multiple clients and collecting data on each case that they are handling at a single point of time might prove to be costly both in terms of money and time. Also when using junior associates to collect data, some data might be missed out on due to human error, and gathering the data manually may also be a rather big waste of their talents. Instead, the companies can do the data gathering with the help of web scrapers, and then converting the gathered data into usable information is something that can be done by the associates.

However, it is highly unexpected that a law firm would be having its own IT team, let alone a data scraping team. Hence, it is highly recommended that firms or even individuals who need data to be scraped from web pages containing historic court cases take the help of DaaS (Data as a Service) providers who can help them collect the data. One such DaaS provider is PromptCloud, and our data scraping team has helped companies from airlines to eCommerce giants turn their business around using data intelligently. 

Conclusion

Data is the new oil, and it does not matter if you are running a BPO or an electronics appliances store, you have to use competitor data, or market data in order to stay in business in the twenty-first century. There are certain segments like law, where digitization is setting in slowly, and even in such unimaginable spheres, data will have to be used intelligently to stay above the crowd. When looking for data, although there are multiple sources, one needs to make sure that it is authentic and the data feed gets updated frequently. When looking for such a source that checks off all the points, web data is the only thing that comes to one’s mind.

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