But the article starts out with an extraneous observation that includes an embarrassing error. Professor Kuh writes:
The recent furor following Kennedy v. Louisiana over the Supreme Court's failure to discover that the Uniform Code of Military Justice authorizes the death penalty for child rape underscores law's entanglement with the electronic medium. This oversight by litigants and the Court alike suggests a pitfall of electronic research. Researchers may have become dependent on the seemingly-inclusive "All Federal Cases" database; however, military cases do not appear in this database.Id. at 224 (internal footnotes omitted).
"All Federal Cases" is, of course, a WESTLAW database abbreviated as ALLFEDS which DOES include military appellate cases. In fact, if you were to do a search for "Kennedy v. Louisiana" in the ALLFEDS database, one of the cases you would find is United States v. Rodriguez, 67 M.J. 110 (C.A.A.F. 209). And if you were to click on the information button next to the ALLFEDS database identifier, you would see that it includes cases from both West's Military Justice Reporter and the Lawyer Co-op's Court-Martial Reports. LEXIS's counterpart database, "Federal Cases, Combined," also includes military justice appellate opinions.
Aside from the obvious factual error that would have been discovered during the most basic fact-check, it isn't clear to me why the article is even talking about ALLFEDS when what the Supreme Court overlooked was a federal statute, not a military justice opinion. While there are a handful of military justice appellate opinions that mention the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006, I would think that a search of a federal statutory database would be more relevant for present purposes than is a search of a federal case law database. And, of course, the federal statutory databases include the laws establishing and governing the military justice system.
So an article about electronic research includes an obvious error about the contents of a WESTLAW database in the first page of its text. Not a good start.
Which raises the question, what were the JOLT editors doing? Law is one of the few disciplines where the bulk of its journals are edited by students. In most other academic disciplines, the norm is peer-reviewed journals. The law's reliance on student edited journals is controversial. Among the critics of the student-edited journal is no less a legal luminary than Judge Posner (writing in a student-edited law review, of course). Richard A. Posner, The Future of the Student-Edited-Edited Law Review, 47 Stan. L. Rev. 1131, 1136 (1995). Two of the principal arguments advanced for letting students rather than, say, law professors serve as the gatekeepers of academic publications about the law are that journals serve an important educational function for those who serve on them and that published articles are more accurate a a result of the effort expended by a huge workforce of volunteer student labor dedicated to ensuring that every utterance in a student-edited law journal is correct. What happened here?