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Where is the Hudson v. Michigan Blog? - A Suggestion for Law Students

On June 15, 2006, the Supreme Court decided the case of Hudson v. Michigan. The Hudson Court held that a violation of the knock-and-announce rule by the police did not require excluding the evidence that they seized. This was a tremendously significant decision, and a quick Lexis search indicates that there have been 39 cases citing Hudson in state and federal courts. But three months later (on September 21st), not a single law review article about Hudson has been written and published. The reason is obvious: there has simply not been enough time.

      

No doubt at this very moment some lawyers and law professors are writing law review articles about Hudson and the knock-and-announce rule. All of these articles will be submitted to law reviews for publication. If they are approved, they will be edited and “acc-checked,” sent back to the author with corrections, resubmitted to the law review, edited and “acc-checked” a few more times, and finally published. How long after the actual case will they appear in print? At least a few months, and perhaps more than a year.

    

Meanwhile, there are prosecutors who are trying knock-and-announce cases, and there are defense attorneys who wonder how Hudson applies to their clients, and there are judges with their clerks who are wondering how Hudson is playing out in the various states and circuits. What questions are left unanswered by Hudson? What consequences should be expected? What progeny might be on the horizon? An attorney who relies on the traditional forms of legal publication will have to wait for a year to learn what the experts think. And when the law review articles finally begin to come out months from now, how many of them will have practical value? Some no doubt will be helpful to legal practitioners, but many of the articles will be esoteric and arcane, and some will already be outdated.

      

But suppose there were a blog devoted exclusively to the case of Hudson v. Michigan (the “HvM Blog”). This blog would become the online authority about the case and its ramifications. Every time a lower court relies on or distinguishes Hudson, the HvM Blog could name and analyze the new decision (and link to it if it’s online). Lawyers and law professors could analyze Hudson and its consequences, and submit their research to the blog. If some form of review were desired, submitted scholarship could potentially be approved, edited, and published within a week after being received. And as state legislatures pass statutes to clarify their laws in the wake of Hudson, the HvM Blog could follow the legislative developments. The blog could link to the online conversations already taking place about Hudson (for example, here and here). If done well, an HvM Blog would provide immediate benefits to the entire legal profession. Prosecutors and defense attorneys across the country would rely on it as a resource, and judges might even cite the blog in a court opinion.

    

Blogs are successfully challenging the monopoly that law reviews and law journals once held over the dissemination of legal scholarship. There are hundreds of law reviews and law journals, including the “main” and specialty ones. How many of the articles contained within are actually read? How many of them have an impact on the profession? How valuable are they to practitioners? How much time does a typical judge or lawyer take to read law review articles when they come out? And how many of these law reviews and law journals could be completely discontinued, with the negative consequences being minimal or non-existent? Every year, law students across the country endeavor to write-on to one of their school’s law journals. Those who are unsuccessful should consider creating a blog as an alternative. Those who do get on law journal should consider creating a blog on the side if time allows.

      

If (as this law professor complains) “the vast majority of law review articles are read by few people, and cited by even fewer,” and if (as this attorney says) “[b]logs are better for me than [law reviews] will ever be,” and if (as this judge predicts) “legal blogs will partially fill the ‘practicality’ gap between the legal academy and the rest of us,” then now is the time for law students to become pioneers in the legal blogosphere. Law students who create sophisticated and authoritative blogs will be laying the foundation for legal scholarship in the 21st century. Eventually future law students may consider starting a blog to be as valid as joining a law journal.

    

I used Hudson v. Michigan as an example, but any important case could merit a blog. The same holds for any significant statute or regulation, or for any major trial. Many legal specialties do not yet have a blog devoted to them (adoption law, for example). By creating a blog, a law student can take online ownership of whatever topic he chooses. He can turn his blog into a continuously updated resource that actual lawyers and judges pay attention to. He can invite lawyers and law professors to post their scholarship on his site, whether short-form or long-form, with a variety of styles ranging from the colloquial to the formal. He can also conduct his own research and publish his own work. Such a student may end up becoming a nationally-recognized authority on his chosen topic. 

    

If law students are inspired by these ideas and create their own legal blogs, they should attempt to get Independent Study credit. This would require finding a faculty sponsor and getting approval from the administration. If it is too late for such a project to be approved this semester then it can be planned for next semester, by which time published articles on Hudson v. Michigan (for example) will still be lacking. Law students who want to make their blogs more official might join together and form a group blog. If any law students follow through with these ideas and start an HvM Blog or its equivalent, please let me know and I will try to send traffic your direction.

September 21, 2006 in Law Student Blogs | Permalink

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Comments

This is a great idea. I wonder how scientists solve this problem--i.e., avoid redundant effort? I imagine things are so specialized there that everyone knows exactly what is going on in the rest of the labs.

Of course, Posner's analysis of patent races might lead one to think that it's good for everyone race against each other in the dark--that just incentivizes speediness. But it could also incentivize sloppiness.

Posted by: Frank | Sep 21, 2006 12:30:49 PM

Excellent post Ian. Changes in the law are occuring so quickly that traditional media (law reviews included) is not adequate to keep up with the complexity and quickly changing legal landscape. I've been reading and thinking about the legal long tail concepts lately and your suggestion to examine/exploit a particular case, statute or other narrow legal silo via a blog is an excellent example of application of long tail theory to highlight expertise in a particular area, become the go to resource on the topic and ultimately for practicing lawyers -- attract clients.

Posted by: bob coffield | Sep 22, 2006 3:13:19 AM

You have read this thread, probably. Maybe Tom Goldstein could send a confidential email to a few of those defense attorneys who opine there, asking if one of them might help your project launch. The discussion was remarkable for its specificity in the caselaw, its sociologic insight, an the experiential credentials of the speakers there.

Posted by: JohnLopresti | Sep 23, 2006 12:06:08 PM

One small correction--there has been an article published about Hudson v. Michigan. On September 14, 2006, my article, "The End of the Exclusionary Rule, Among Other Things: The Roberts Court Takes on the Fourth Amendment," was published at 2006 Cato Supreme Court Review 283 (2006). Since I'm the guy who argued the case (twice) on behalf of Booker T. Hudson, Jr., you won't be surprised to learn that my article is mostly about Hudson v. Michigan.

Posted by: David Moran | Sep 25, 2006 9:22:50 PM

There is a legal wiki - I originally thought this would be a fine use for a wiki.

Posted by: Rob Hyndman | Oct 10, 2006 7:09:11 AM

Scalia's opinion seems to promote section 1983 actions.

Posted by: Rick Bunch | Nov 1, 2006 2:57:21 PM

I think this site is helpful for law students in improving their studies and even their future law practice. Post is interesting and informative one. Thanks to you.

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Posted by: Ronald12 | Aug 5, 2008 6:20:21 AM

The court announced very tremodous decision against the hudson.
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Posted by: sharu | Aug 5, 2008 6:46:30 AM

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