SEPTEMBER 2, 2014 | BY VERA EIDELMAN AND AMUL KALIA
Right to Know: The PACER Mess And How to Clean It
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PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) is the government-run online system used by lawyers, the press, and the public to access public federal court records in the United States. The administrators of that system recently announced that a huge number of documents from five federal courts have been permanently removed from its database and are no longer publicly viewable. For one circuit court, only documents filed within the last 2.5 years are now available; for two other circuit courts, documents now go back only 4 years.
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In response to the current PACER mess, several organizations, including the Free Law Project and Public.Resource.Org, have sent letters to the Chief Judge of each affected court, requesting the removed records so they can make them available once again to journalists, researchers, lawyers, and the general public.
These organizations are giving the courts the opportunity not only to make the records available online again but, even better, to make them available online for free. The courts have nothing to lose and much to gain by fulfilling this request: the records are already digitized, and simply need to be hosted somewhere. The Free Law Project and Public.Resource.Org are offering to do just that, and at absolutely no cost to the courts, litigants, academics, or the public. We urge the courts to take these organizations up on their offer.
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So let me understand this, the documents that used to be freely available, were removed so that they could then be made available for a fee?
And this helps us how?
Gooferment in action!
Any wonder why I’m an EFF member and donor!
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