by Dr. Lance B. Eliot
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Key briefing points about this article:
- Lawyers learn in law school about the myriad of legal cases throughout history
- Some legal cases are standouts, often referred to as landmarks
- One means of ferreting out landmarks and non-landmarks is via citation analyses
- A recent citation analysis showcases a useful topological map of the law
- Efforts to devise AI legal reasoning can be fruitfully amplified via such topological maps
You’ve probably had lots of friendly arguments with your legal colleagues over a wide array of jurisprudence topics. Sometimes the debates are quite serious and at other times they are a bit more frivolous. I’ll arm you with some legal gold nuggets that they are unlikely to know.
Ask them if they can name the U.S. legal case that has been the most ever formally cited.
In other words, if we took a look at the history of essentially all U.S. legal cases, and we wanted to know which one has been the most oft-cited case, which such case would that be?
Since any smarmy lawyer being asked such a question might try to undercut the potential answer, let’s clarify that the most formally cited case will be based on a count up done across over 5 million legal cases as collected in the Caselaw Access Project (CAP) database and the Historic Supreme Court Decisions (HSCD) dataset. Thus, we are construing “formally cited” as meaning that other legal cases on record had opted to cite this particular case.
I trust that establishes satisfactorily the underlying ground rules.
I’m sure that most lawyers would right away be thinking about some of the landmark cases that have made headlines and had a pronounced impact on both the law and society. Perhaps notable cases including Marbury v. Madison of 1803, Dred Scott…