Episode 5: The Top 10 Most Commonly Cited Statutes

I’m joined today by myself; not the best company, I’ll admit. All the more reason for you to reach out and join me if you’re in the DMV area and available to record a podcast during the day. If you would be so kind, please subscribe to us on iTunes and give us a five star review. It helps people find us, it takes almost no time, and it makes us happy on the inside.

1. Washington state is trying to tell its baristas to cover up with proposed legislation that would ban “offensive, disturbing, lewd or obscene activity . . . by employees of coffee stands or other businesses.” The bill is a response to a relatively booming business in Washington sporting scantly clad baristas serving coffee and, according to the report of an undercover officer, sometimes “extras” for $20 tips.

2. Quentin Tarantino is suing Gawker for linking to a leaked copy of one of his screenplays. In Tarantino’s own words, “Gawker Media has made a business of predatory journalism, violating people’s rights to make a buck. This time they went too far.” Tarantino is suing for both copyright infringement and contributory copyright infringement.

3. The Legal Informatics Blog posted a link this morning to Brian Carver’s recent talk on the Free Law Project. Professor Carver is doing some great work with his students in an attempt to make the law more accessible to the general public. At one point during the linked YouTube video Brian talks about some of the cool informatics work we love here at Fastcase. For example, at one point he cites Strickland v. Washington as the most frequently cited case in their corpus. He then went on to say that although the system doesn’t yet have the ability to identify statute citations, it will at some point, and it would be nice to know, for myriad reasons, which statutes are cited with the highest frequency. I knew we could generate this data pretty easily with Fastcase — as it turns out our users can actually generate a list of all seven million cases in our database and order them by citation frequency. Below is a list of the ten most frequently cited cases in our database.

This list is of course limited to the cases within our database, which if you’re interested, is described in detail at our scope of coverage page.

Now for the list I’m fairly sure might be the first of it’s kind: the top 10 statute citations in all US jurisdictions:

Just to jog your memory of these statutes, here are the section headings:

§ 1983. Civil action for deprivation of rights

§ 636. Jurisdiction, powers, and temporary assignment

§ 2254. State custody; remedies in Federal courts

§ 1915. Proceedings in forma pauperis

§ 841. Prohibited acts A [Under Chapter 13 – Drug Abuse Prevention and Control]

§ 1291. Final decisions of district courts

§ 2255. Federal custody; remedies on motion attacking sentence

§ 1332. Diversity of citizenship; amount in controversy; costs

§ 405. Evidence, procedure, and certification for payments [Chapter 7 – Social Security]

§1331. Federal question

This list is actually super interesting for a few reasons I might touch on in the podcast. There are some limitations I should note — if a statute was renumbered in the U.S. Code, we may not be properly capturing that in this list right now. Hopefully that’s a feature we can add in the future. For now this is a pretty neat representation.

4. Sometimes things slip through the cracks of justice, but usually you hope it’s not a person. Not so for an Indiana woman who recently served 154 days in jail rather than the 48 hours she was sentenced to serve for drug evaluation and treatment. When the evaluation failed to take place, her release was never triggered, and apparently nobody noticed until a prosecutor happened to review the case and filed a motion to release her upon realizing the woman was still imprisoned.

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Thanks for listening!

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