When Judge Hiller Zobel decides whether British au pair Louise Woodward will go to jail for the rest of her life after being convicted for the killing of the baby she was hired to care for, he will immediately email it to a legal Web site.
Lawyer's Weekly, a Boston-based legal publication that often posts Massachusetts appellate decisions on its Web site, will post the decision when it comes down, expected sometime in the next two months.
Zobel today delayed his decision, which includes options to overturn the jury's decision, convict Woodward of a lesser charge, or order a new trial.
According to Paul Martineck, publisher of Lawyer's Weekly, the publication has a long-standing arrangement with the superior court, but this is the first time it has published a trial court's verdict. "We're just going to put up the verdict, as well as a brief summary of the judgment," he said.
Martineck added that the site has been flooded with traffic from surfers interested in the high-profile case, underscoring the growing confidence that the Internet is becoming a legitimate outlet for global dissemination of breaking news.
Although the Net often serves as a nesting ground for unfounded rumors, online news venues such as CNN Interactive and ABCNews.com often beat their traditional broadcast counterparts in reporting breaking news.
Internet traffic to news sites often spikes in the periods following breaking stories and events, such as the aftermath of Princess Diana's death and the mass suicide of the Heaven's Gate cult members, according to Jordan Kurzweil, manager of Fox News Internet.
"Page views go up exponentially, and the spikes [in traffic] get larger every time there's a breaking news event," Kurzweil said. "If you want to disseminate information globally without any interference or interpretation, the best place to go is the Internet."