Tag Archives: PACER

25 Years Later, PACER, Electronic Filing Continue to Change Courts

“Twenty-five years ago, computers were hurtling America into the Information Age. From 1987 to 1989, the nation’s PC sales tripled, as consumers gained unprecedented power to process words, crunch numbers and print documents at home. The World Wide Web was still being invented, but early adopters were discovering personal email. In federal courts, the revolution also was getting under way. Documents were still kept on paper, and law firm couriers lined up daily in clerk’s offices, waiting to pore through case files, but all that was about to change. In September 1988, the Judicial Conference of the United States approved a new way of opening information to the public, through a service known as PACER—Public Access to Court Electronic Records.” (via United States Courts)

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PACER Survey Shows Rise in User Satisfaction

“PACER has seen a sharp rise in overall user satisfaction since a comparable survey was conducted in 2009, with 90 percent of users saying they are satisfied or highly satisfied with the internet-based public case information system. That compares with 75 percent satisfaction with the overall user experience in the previous survey. Conversely, only 3 percent of users consider themselves “dissatisfied,” compared with 15 percent four years ago. On a scale of 1 to 5, users also gave a higher average overall satisfaction rating: 4.26 in 2012, versus 3.97 in 2009. The findings, prepared by an independent consultant, were based on an analysis of 1,752 completed surveys, representing a response rate of 20 percent from a randomly selected pool of users.” (via United States Courts)

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The inside story of Aaron Swartz’s campaign to liberate court filings

“Years before the JSTOR scraping project that led to Aaron Swartz’s indictment on federal hacking charges—and perhaps to his suicide—the open-data activist scraped documents from PACER, the federal judiciary’s paywalled website for public access to court records. (The acronym PACER stands for Public Access to Court Electronic Records, which may sound like it’s straight out of 1988 because it is.) Swartz got 2.7 million documents before the courts detected his downloads and blocked access. The case was referred to the FBI, which investigated Swartz’s actions but declined to prosecute him. A key figure in Swartz’s PACER effort was Steve Schultze, now a researcher at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy. Schultze recruited Swartz to the PACER fight and wrote the Perl script Swartz modified and then used to scrape the site.”

via Ars Technica

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New Website Launches Bankruptcy-Focused PACER Alternative

Bankruptcy Beat – WSJ – “We recently received an email announcing the latest work-around, a bankruptcy-specific website that says it’s “tearing down PACER’s pay wall and bringing transparency to public records.” The site, called Inforuptcy, allows users to search for a case or a document through its portal. The search is free, and if the document is available, the HTML text can be viewed free. PDFs are offered for 50% off PACER’s 10 cents per page. If it’s not in the database yet, the document can be pulled from PACER, with the user paying PACER’s fee. The document is then stored on the site and available for those who later request it. New users are given $5 to start before they’re asked for credit-card information.”

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PACER, RECAP, and the Movement to Free American Case Law

Steve Schultze – “Readers of this blog are probably already familiar with the U.S. Federal Courts’ system for electronic access called PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). PACER is unlike any other country’s electronic public access system that I am aware of, because it provides complete access to docket text, opinions, and all documents filed (except sealed records, of course). It is a tremendously useful tool, and (at least at the time of its Web launch in the late 1990s) was tremendously ahead of its time. However, PACER is unique in another important way: it imposes usage charges on citizens for downloading, viewing, and even searching for case materials. This limitation unfortunately forecloses a great deal of democracy-enhancing activity.”

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Judiciary Approves PACER Innovations To Enhance Public Access

US Courts – “The Judicial Conference of the United States today approved key steps to improve public access to federal courts by increasing the availability of court opinions and expanding the services and reducing the costs for many users of the Public Access to Electronic Court Records (PACER)”

More here

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This Law is My Law

Radio Berkman – “This week we sit down with Carl Malamud, who with the group Public.Resource.org is pushing to put law in the public domain. We covered the issue of copyright on law a few months ago in Radio Berkman 129 where Steve Schultze introduced us to RECAP – a software that helps legal researchers bypass hefty fees for access to legal documents.”

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PACER: Picking Up the Pace?

NYLJ – “Not long ago, someone who wanted a copy of a court document had to travel to the courthouse where that particular case resided, ask a clerk to make a copy, and pay a typically steep copying fee. That’s still true in most court systems in this country and abroad, but not in the federal courts.”

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DOJ Pays $4M a Year to Read Public Court Documents

Wired – “The federal court system charged the Department of Justice more than $4 million in 2009 for access to its electronic court filing system, which is composed entirely of documents in the public domain.”

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Federal Courts Wary of Document-Sharing Plugin

Wired.com – “The federal court system doesn’t seem to like Harlan Yu and his fellow merry pranksters who made a tool to free court documents from an unwieldy computer system that has a nasty habit of charging 8 cents a page for public documents. In fact, the court system’s IT managers is warning that their browser plug-in might put sealed court documents at risk, when in actuality, the system doesn’t work at all when lawyers are uploading documents.”

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