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New PACER RECAP project!

PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) is a database of databases of judicial opinions, pleadings, motions and other papers from 94 district courts, 93 bankruptcy courts, and 13 circuit courts that compose the federal judiciary.

The RECAP project was initially a firefox/chrome extension which allowed users to automatically search for free copies during a search in the fee-based online PACER system and allowed users to build up a free alternative database at the Internet Archive.

The Free Law Project has announced that it has built a new archive of all the PACER documents captured by the RECAP project. The archive is available at https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/ and is fully searchable for the first time. It contains more than ten million PACER documents, including the extracted text from more than seven million pages of scanned documents

GPO also provides access to some PACER documents through FDsys and govinfo.gov. The availability of PACER records through GPO has a checkered history.

The Free Law Project also said that it will be launching a PACER/RECAP data service in the next few months that will help journalists and researchers acquire and understand PACER content. The Project will also be building a RECAP Clearinghouse that will provide some of the functionality of the firefox/chrome extensions, allowing researchers and organizations to use an API to get content from PACER.

The RECAP project is designed to help solve The PACER Problem by providing enhanced, free, meaningful public access to federal court records.

Read the complete announcement with many more details here:

  • Free Law Project Re-Launches RECAP Archive, a New Search Tool for PACER Dockets and Documents by Michael Lissner, Free Law Project (22 November 2016).

    “Creating an archive for all free PACER opinions and a clearinghouse for new content should quickly create a large and useful collection of PACER content. This will enable researchers, journalists, and organizations to focus their efforts where it matters — creating new research, identifying and telling important stories, and innovating the legal marketplace. We hope you will join us in this effort, and that if you find these services and tools valuable, that you will support our work with a donation.”

Hat tip to Gary Price at InfoDocket!

Also see: PACER and EDGAR.

New report on open government data


A new report by the Data Foundation and Grant Thornton LLP “seeks to capture the moment, provide a vision of the future, and catalyze further efforts for the open data movement.” It includes interviews with more than 40 Congressional and agency leaders, open data experts and advocates, and private sector leaders. It also has a a brief history and timeline of the open data movement

NextGov has a brief summary of the report:

Election Resources

Here are some links you might want to use this week.

  • The Scout Report (October 28, 2016) Volume 22, Number 42.

    A special edition of The Scout Report on voting. “While U.S. presidential elections date back to 1789, the practice of voting in such elections has greatly changed as suffrage rights have expanded and new forms of technology and media have emerged. We include in this edition resources that examine such changes alongside those that provide insight and information into contemporary practices of voting, both in the United States and around the world.”

  • U.S. Electoral College. National Archives and Records Administration.

    The Scout Report (above) describes this NARA site as designed “to help students and members of the general public better understand the history and modern day operation of the Electoral College. Here, visitors can explore Frequently Asked Questions, … view a helpful video that provides an overview of the college, and check out historical Electoral College results. Election results dating back to 1964 are mapped on this website, and visitors can view these results on a timeline in order to explore how state party leanings have shifted over the past half century.

    “Perhaps the highlight of this website is the Make a Prediction section, which provides users an interactive map that allows visitors to predict the result of the 2016 election by projecting the victor of each state and the resulting tally of electoral votes. This feature is especially helpful for teaching the workings of the Electoral College – and its significance in U.S. presidential campaigning – to students.”


CIA to post millions of CIA declassified documents online

The Central Intelligence Agency said this week that it will post its “CREST” (CIA Records Search Tool) database of more than 11 million pages of historical Agency records that have already been declassified and approved for public release online, making them broadly accessible to all interested users.

Debunking the Patriot Act as It Turns 15

“The Patriot Act turns 15 today, but that’s nothing to celebrate.”

Number 4:

Surveillance under the Patriot Act goes far beyond your phone company – Section 215 dramatically expanded the “business records” provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Although it was most notoriously used for the NSA’s call record program and was reformed by the USA FREEDOM Act, despite those reforms, the provision still allows the FBI to obtain records from any type of business, including your car rental company, your school, or your employer.

… or your library.