Ditching West Publishing Could Save Court $350K

     (CN) - The 9th Circuit said Thursday that it will save $350,000 over the next year by processing its opinions in-house instead of contracting that service to West Publishing.
     Inspiration for the cost-saving measure came from the U.S. Judicial Conference, the court said.
     The San Francisco-based federal appeals court has been processing its own opinions since early November.
     "Court staff now manage the process of converting opinions from the original word processing documents into Adobe PDF files, which are then uploaded onto the website, where they can be viewed and/or downloaded by the public," the court said in a statement.
     It added that it "expects to save an estimated $350,000 in the first full year of in-house production of the opinions."
     West Publishing had formerly prepared the circuit's opinions for publication on the Internet.
     Unlike those processed by West, the new opinions include case summaries prepared by court staff. The new opinions are also easier to read on tablets, a growing medium in the court system, Clerk of Court Molly Dwyer said.
     "The formatting change reflects the growing use of tablet devices by both the bench and bar," Dwyer said in a statement. "We are continuing to print a limited number of copies for judges who request hard copy. But I think many judges have become quite comfortable using the electronic versions."
     While credit for the measure has gone to the federal judiciary's national governing body, the 9th Circuit is recovering from the public relations assault over its conference this past August at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa.
     Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Jeff Sessions had criticized the conference as a pricey Hawaiian vacation funded by taxpayer dollars. They argued that the expensive conference sent the wrong message considering the fragile economy.
     Though the court refused to cancel the 2012 conference, it rescheduled the 2013 Circuit Conference to 2014 in Monterey.