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Students:  Have you ever finished reading an assigned case and realized you didn’t understand the legal issue involved or the holding? Don’t worry; we’ve all been there. Part of legal education is learning how to understand the central issue or issues in a dispute and extrapolate a rule from the court’s discussion of the case. This can certainly be difficult, particularly for students in the beginning of their law studies.

Here at the Law Library we provide several secondary sources aimed to help students better understand cases. Oyez (pronounced OH-yay) is a free online resource of which you may not be aware, and it is also an excellent resource if you are interested in learning more about a Supreme Court case.

 The Oyez website provides the following introduction to its content:

“… offers transcript-synchronized and searchable audio, plain-English case summaries, illustrated decision information, and full-text Supreme Court opinions “

Today, Oyez has digitized all audio recorded in the Court since October 1955. All arguments and opinion announcements were transcribed, speakers were identified, and the audio signal was aligned to the sentence level. The Oyez website states that this amounts to more than 14,000 hours of audio, or 66+ million words. The site currently contains recordings of oral arguments for most of the cases decided by the Supreme Court since 1968, with some audio of leading cases decided before 1968. Users can access oral argument recordings through streaming audio, and download files in MP3 format. The best way to search the Oyez website is to narrow to the Court term of interest and then select the case from the provided list.

Hearing the parties’ arguments as well as the Justices’ responses and questions can be invaluable to deep understanding of a landmark case. Try it out, and let us know what you think!

History of the Phrase

Oyez! is a traditional interjection said two or three times in succession to introduce the opening of a court of law, especially in Great Britain. Loosely translated because of original evolving of languages and dialects, Oyez means “here ye,” and is meant to command attention. The Supreme Court still uses the term at the beginning of each session.

Posted by Emily E. Roscoe on Tue. September 11, 2018 9:53 AM
Categories: Uncategorized

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