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December 2007

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.


Free Access to Court Records Offered at 16 Libraries

A joint pilot project of the Administrative Office and the Government Printing Office (GPO) has made free public access to federal court records available at 16 libraries in 14 states.

The project offers free access to the federal Judiciary’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system at 16 participating federal depository libraries. PACER (www.pacer.uscourts.gov) allows users to obtain case file documents, listings of all case parties, judgments, and other information from district, bankruptcy, and appellate courts online, with the data immediately available for printing or downloading.

PACER normally carries an eight-cents-per-page fee, which is used to fund the system’s costs. That fee will be waived for all users, even those who already have PACER accounts, when the system is accessed from the 16 libraries.

Each of the participating libraries has agreed to promote the PACER service, provide users with a three-question PACER survey, report PACER activities to the GPO every two months, and provide access only from computers within the library and its branches. The libraries also have agreed to maintain login and password security.

The project, which will last up to two years, is part of the Judiciary’s continuing effort to expand public access to court records by discovering if a segment of the public desires access to information contained in the PACER system but is unlikely to go to a courthouse or become a PACER user.

The federal depository libraries participating in the pilot are: Alaska State Court Law Library, AK; Lee College, TX; 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Library, IL; Rutgers Law Library, NJ; San Bernadino County Law Library, CA; State Library of Ohio, OH; University of Michigan School of Law, MI; Fordham Law School, NY; Sacramento County Public Law Library, CA; Wayne State University, MI; University of Tennessee College of Law, TN; Rogers State University, OK; Nova Southeastern University Law Library, FL; Portland Public Library, ME; New Mexico Supreme Court Law Library, NM; and Northern Kentucky University, KY.