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.”
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.”
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.”
CNET News – “The U.S. Congress allows the federal courts to charge a fee–currently set at 8 cents a page–to search for and download documents. The database, called PACER, is strict about charging and even levies fees for searches that result in no matches. Which is two pair of Princeton University graduate students, with some help from Harvard University’s Berkman Center, have developed a Firefox browser plug-in called RECAP (PACER spelled backward). It’s designed to make more court documents available to the public at no cost.”
Interesting news from the WSJ Law Blog – “thanks to a joint venture of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts and the Government Printing Office, PACER is now being offered free â€” free! â€” at 16 federal depository libraries.”
A no-brainer, IMO. PACER should be free at the Federal courts too (in fact, it might).
Via the ever diligent Abbie Mulvihill, a US Courts press release: “The Judicial Conference of the United States today voted to make transcripts of federal district and bankruptcy court proceedings available online through the Judiciary’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. Under the new policy, transcripts created by court reporters or transcribers will be available for inspection and copying in a clerk of courtâ€™s office and for download from PACER 90 days after they are delivered to the clerk. Individuals will be able to view, download, or print a copy of a transcript from PACER for eight cents per page.”
It’s getting easier, folks.
U.S. Courts – “Back in the paper world, we constantly had law firm runners who came to the clerk’s office to make copies of case files. They’d have to drive to the courthouse, find a parking place, feed the meter, and pay 50 cents per copy. Helping them consumed a lot of staff time,” she said. “Those days are gone.” (via)
Not a big deal really. At 7 cents per page, firms won’t be saving much by getting written opinions for free.