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PACER and Crowdsourcing Court Records

Here is a first hand account by a user of court documents about why we need better access to court records than the 21 year old PACER system.

Last week I made a visit to the District of Columbia’s federal courthouse to look up some documents for a story I’ve been working on. Since I don’t have an account for the federal court records database known as PACER, heading down to the courthouse was the only way I could download and print the records I needed at a cost of eight cents per page. I sat down and dutifully printed out the first lengthy set of documents, only to find that somehow all of the text printed out backwards on the page.

The second computer printed correctly, but proved slow and unresponsive. What I thought would be a a relatively straightforward task ended up consuming much of my afternoon. I was told users with accounts can access the records online, but even then the records are not searchable, making navigation time consuming and difficult.

See also:

Federal Courts Wary of Document-Sharing Plugin

Recap Firefox Extension: “turning PACER around”

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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