In an earlier post, Ms. Baker artfully noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has taken steps to address link rot. Link rot refers to the removal of or changes to the cited online materials, rendering the court’s citations unusable or unreliable, thereby minimizing the opinion’s precedential value. According to a recent study, 29% of the Internet citations in U.S. Supreme Court opinions between 1996 and 2011 were broken or no longer valid. A similar study of the Supreme Court of Texas found that about 40% of the Court’s Internet citations used during 1998 to 2011 no longer worked.
The U.S. Supreme Court has created a webpage with links to PDF images that capture the cited reference as it appeared at the time of citation. This is an acceptable method of addressing the link rot issue. Unfortunately, at this time, the Supreme Court of Texas has not taken equivalent measures to safeguard against link rot in its opinions.