We have written about Google Scholar and legal opinions in the past, but it is time for an update. Google has recently announced changes to its Google Scholar display of legal citations. Via Google Scholar Blog post titled Finding Significant Citations for Legal Opinions, Google has significantly changed the way it displays citations for legal opinions. When Google Scholar for legal opinions first came out, the citations for legal opinions were organized by the prominence. However now, the results list is sorted by the depth of discussion.
Opinions that discuss the cited case in detail are presented before ones that mention the case briefly. We indicate the extent of discussion visually and indicate opinions that discuss the cited case at length, that discuss it moderately and those that discuss it briefly. Opinions that don’t discuss the cited case are left unmarked.
For example see Dique v. New Jersey State Police, 603 F.3d 181 (3d Cir. 2010). By clicking on How Cited, Google displays on how this document was cited. On the right hand side of the display, a list of cases that cited this document is now organized by the depth of discussion, which is visually indicated by either one, two, or three horizontal bars to the left of the case name. By clicking on all citing documents (in this case 84), a new page opens displaying documents citing Dique that are organized by the depth of the discussion. Nice going Google!