Texas Supreme Court advisory

Contact: Osler McCarthy, staff attorney for public information
512.463.1441 or click for email

Friday, December 9, 2011
GRANT TO FINANCE EXTENDING DIGITAL
RULES-COMMITTEE DATABASE TO 1982
When completed, the project will allow online research of court rules histories


A $7,500 Texas Bar Foundation grant will pay for a scanning and online cataloging project that will enable researchers with a few mouse clicks to trace Texas court rules changes over the past three decades.

The grant, to the Office of Court Administration, will finance digital scanning of 10 years’ of paper records since 1982, indexing those records and later records for which digital copies exist, and providing online searching through all.

These records will include transcriptions of Supreme Court Advisory Committee meetings since 1985 when court reporters began recording meetings of the Court’s so-called rules committee. From those transcripts and other meetings materials, indexed to specific rules changes, researchers will be able to trace rules histories by computer that now require perusing thousands of paper pages.  

“This work will enable lawyers or anyone interested in how court rules changed over time to find that, and to find it quickly,” said Tiffany Shropshire, the Court’s archivist, who will be in charge of the project.

The online resource will be available on the Supreme Court web site.

“The availability and accessibility of these important public records increases the transparency of the Texas judiciary, making it easy for any user to research the chronology of the rules discussed in the transcripts,” Shropshire said. “In contrast, the Court’s current method of complying with public requests requires staff time to find documents in question from files loosely arranged chronologically – that is, if someone seeking a document has a date to start a search – and can cost a researcher a lot for the staff time and copying.”

Digital scanning and indexing the Advisory Committee records also will benefit researchers as Shropshire catalogs and arranges permanent paper rules records relating to all Texas judicial rules, not only the Rules of Civil Procedure but also, for example, the Rules of Judicial Administration.

Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $13 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation’s largest charitably funded bar foundation.