Opinions with Internet Citations are Safeguarded by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

Courts increasingly continue to cite to Internet resources in opinions. Over time, it is rare to find hyperlinks that still work, resulting in link rot. Link rot occurs when the hyperlink no longer works or disappears, typically leading to the now ubiquitous 404 error—page not found—message. Since about 2007 Federal court law libraries have been preserving intent citations in opinions, including the Fifth Circuit.


The Fifth Circuit, along with the other U. S. circuits, captures the cited Internet reference by converting the original documents and web pages as .pdf files. According to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Law Library, “[u]sing the URL referenced in the opinion, the original copy is saved with a watermark to denote the document’s archived status.” In addition to posting the archived URLs on the library website several Circuits are also adding the materials to the official case docket and PACER. Unfortunately, the Fifth Circuit has yet to do so.

Fifth Circuit opinions are arranged in descending docket number order. A sample entry is noted below. By clicking on a URL, one retrieves a .pdf copy of the resource as it existed at the time of filing with the Court. Each resource listed is a link to an archived copy.

5th cir sample

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