The best features of DocketDB.com have now been integrated directly into the Supreme Court of Texas Blog.
The database and the servers have been entirely rebuilt. The scrapers are tuned to the new court websites. And the logic that classifies cases to particular "stages" on the docket is better than ever before.
In 2007, when I built the first scrapers that would evolve into the DocketDB website, I felt like I was building something five years ahead of what you could get on a basic court website. That turned out to be about right. The new Texas appellate website (TAMES) offers a few features from my site. And, in some areas, it offers more.
It's flattering that the users who know the most about the subject of the Texas courts wanted to have some of these features on their own website.
But it also means I have to lay a foundation for something different. With that in mind, I'm taking the best features from DocketDB and integrating them directly into the blog. I've brought across things like the docket stagings tables (the first feature everybody loved), the chart of which cases come from which courts of appeals, and individual docket data for 18,000 cases. Having all this plumbing in one place lets me build more dynamic blog content — features such as integrating the orders lists or the way that opinion voting blocs can now be inserted directly into posts (like this one).
As someone who writes both code and legal arguments, I can say that the two kinds of thinking have surprising things in common. But there is a huge difference, one that permeates the programming culture very deeply, that might not be obvious to you. It's that programmers can build their own tools. If they are frustrated by their workflow, they write a new tool.
What the law needs is a "maker" movement. Instead, we get ads for enterprise software featuring airbrushed actors with windswept hair. Maybe that's what we deserve. But I plan to keep making things.
No DocketDB accounts were transferred to this new server. If there's some part of your old DocketDB tracking data that you'd like to recover, please send me an email. I can open up the archived files and extract what you need. (The archived data is frozen as of July 2012, when the Texas Supreme Court switched its website and I froze the DocketDB engine.)
I'd love to hear from you. If you have bug reports, or see a case that it seems like my system is misclassifying, please let me know.
— Don Cruse