Currency was compared for six online sources of New Jersey case law, four online sources of New Jersey chapter laws, three online sources of the compiled New Jersey Statutes, and four online sources of the New Jersey Administrative Code, during the period December 10, 2001 through February 11, 2002. Lexis, Loislaw, Rutgers-Camden, Versuslaw, and Westlaw usually loaded cases on the decision date, but Quicklaw America lagged behind by one or two days and missed one day's worth of cases, and Loislaw missed two days' worth of cases. The quickest to load the chapter laws was Lexis. The most current version of the compiled statutes was that on the Legislature's website. The most current version of the administrative code was Westlaw's.
The present study aimed to judge the currency of online services by looking only at the most recent case and chapter law on each service on each search date, rather than trying to determine the actual load date for each case and law. Since this method does not detect gaps in the loading of material, it trades off some accuracy in the interest of minimizing the research time. To partially compensate for this loss of accuracy, the completeness of the case law for the study period was checked at the end of the study.
The services studied were: Gann Books Online, the Legislature's website, Lexis, Loislaw, Quicklaw America, the Rutgers-Camden Law Library website, VersusLaw, and Westlaw. The eight services were checked on each of thirty evenings from December 10, 2001 through February 11, 2002. The order in which the services were checked was varied systematically, to avoid giving any service the advantage of being checked later than another. It generally took about half an hour to check all eight services.
With respect to case law, currency was judged by actual searches on Lexis, Quicklaw America, VersusLaw, and Westlaw, and by accessing the "Recent Opinions" page on the Rutgers-Camden site. On Loislaw, I relied on the "Currency" button, which displays a date automatically updated when new cases are loaded. I had previously verified the accuracy of Loislaw's "Currency" button by some actual searches. However, I did happen to observe, near the end of the study period, one instance in which the "Currency" button had somehow been updated too soon, indicating same-day currency on February 6 when an actual search showed the latest cases to be from February 5.
For the chapter laws, currency was judged by actual searches in the Lexis NJALS file and the Westlaw NJ-LEGIS database, by display of the 2001 Chapter Law listing on the Legislature's site, and by the "Currency" button on Loislaw. For the compiled statutes, I took at face value the currency information displayed by Gann Books Online, the Legislature's site, and Quicklaw America. Likewise for the N.J. Administrative Code, I relied on currency claimed by Lexis and Westlaw in the display of any retrieved section, the "Currency" button on Loislaw, and currency information displayed by Quicklaw America.
Five of the six case law services had same-day currency on at least twenty-four of the thirty search dates. Loislaw presumably had same-day currency on all the search dates except February 6. Lexis and Rutgers-Camden were each one day behind on two search dates. VersusLaw was one day behind on three dates and two days behind on two dates. Westlaw was one day behind on three dates and two days behind on three dates. Quicklaw America consistently lagged behind the other services, being most often behind by one day, but sometimes further, with a median lag of two days.
The completeness check at the end of the study revealed that, of a total of 110 cases that had appeared on the Judiciary website as decided during the study period, Rutgers-Camden was missing one case: Baer v. Klagholz (App.Div. Dec.28,2001), Quicklaw America was missing the three cases decided Dec.13,2001, and Loislaw was missing eleven cases: three from Feb.4,2002 and eight from Feb.6, 2002. There was one additional case, which had not appeared on the Judiciary website, which was found only on Westlaw: Caracappa v. Berrie, 2001 WL 1617209 ([App.Div.] Dec.17,2001).
[Addendum: When re-checked on Feb.26,2002, the previously missing Feb.4 and 6 cases were now found on Loislaw. The Dec.13 cases were still missing from Quicklaw, and the one Dec.28 case was still missing from Rutgers-Camden. Quicklaw and Rutgers-Camden were notified of these missing cases Feb.26; Quicklaw added the Dec.13 cases by Feb.28.]
During the study period, 197 laws were enacted, with a peak of 68 laws approved on January 8, 2002. The final laws of the session were approved on January 14,2002. Of the four services providing the chapter laws, the Lexis NJALS file was by far the quickest, typically loading batches of laws about three days after their approval. From previous observation, I have the impression that Lexis also provides, on the amended sections of its New Jersey CODE file,"Update" alerts linking to the amending laws in the NJALS file, with the same promptness as it loads the chapter laws but I have not verified this in any systematic way. The other three chapter law services (the Legislature's website, Loislaw, and the Westlaw NJ-LEGIS database), had lag times ranging from one to three weeks in loading batches of chapter laws during this period. Westlaw's KeyCite feature provides links from amended sections of its NJ-ST database to the amending laws in NJ-LEGIS, somewhat less currently than the addition of the amending laws (this again is a general impression which I did not investigate systematically; the KeyCite feature becomes active with respect to an amending law when that law is no longer designated as a "slip" version on Westlaw). The same information which enables the Lexis NJALS file to be so current, which is the comprehensive legislative bill information furnished by StateNet, also comes to Westlaw with the same currency, but Westlaw loads it only in the NJ-BILLTXT database, whereas Lexis also automatically loads the enacted bills in the NJALS file. Thus the new laws are actually retrievable on Westlaw with the same currency as on Lexis, but not with the same efficiency or obviousness.
Of the services that regularly incorporate the newly enacted provisions into a compilation of the statutes, the most current during this study period was the New Jersey Permanent Statutes Database on the Legislature's website. During December 2001 and the first half of January 2002, this site had lag times of four to seven business days from enactment to incorporation in the compilation. The lag increased to about three weeks in incorporating the laws enacted from January 8 through January 14. Gann Books Online and Loislaw had lag times of two to four weeks during most of the study period. Quicklaw America, according to the currency statement displayed on its NJST search page, did not, during the study period, incorporate any laws beyond chapter 260 (approved December 6, 2001).
West Group, being the publisher of the New Jersey Administrative Code, is able to update it on Westlaw much more promptly than any competing service. In this study period, during which four issues of the New Jersey Register were published, the Westlaw NJ-ADC database was updated on the same day as the Register publication date for three of those issues, and the just one day later for the other issue. Loislaw's lag time for updates to N.J.A.C. ranged from three weeks to five weeks, while Lexis had a three week lag for one update and a six week lag for another. Quicklaw America, according to the currency statement on its NJRG search page, did not update its N.J.A.C. at all during the study period, beginning and ending it with a stated currency of September 17,2001.