In order to carry out their functions of deciding particular cases and developing legal rules and principles, courts need information: not just information about the law, but also factual information about the particular matter in controversy and about the world in general. The way in which courts are structured, however, makes it more difficult for them to obtain the information they need than it is for most other public decision-making institutions. As the world becomes more complex, and as sophisticated scientific, technical, and financial information becomes more central to litigation and to the judicial function, the systemic disabilities of the courts in obtaining the information they need become more apparent and increasingly more problematic.

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