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Open government advocates are quickly losing patience with the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts (AO). After the AO doubled the quarterly fee waiver from $15 to $30 in January, Advocates from argue FixTheCourt called it “Wholly Inadequate” and have called for the US Courts to change antiquated business model of the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system which charges the public thousands of times more than it should cost to provide access to federal court documents. I completely agree with FixTheCourt. Government information, including US court records, should be free to the public! Litigation on PACER is ongoing, but let’s hope we can get some solid legislation to MAKE PACER FREE! It’s long beyond time.
Open government advocates are decrying recent changes to the PACER fee scale as wholly inadequate and are calling on Congress to improve upon and advance bipartisan bills to reduce the costs of accessing federal court records. The move comes as the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts (AO) officially notified House and Senate leadership last week of its previously approved changes to PACER charges.
…it is estimated that the actual cost to retrieve these documents, with storage fees built in, is $0.0000006 per page. Storing the roughly one billion documents in PACER should then run about $600,000, or about one-half of one percent of PACER’s reported revenue ($146.4 million in 2016). And yet, the AO still charges $0.10 per page of search results and $0.10 per page of case documents.
Center for Public Integrity Report: “Millions of Federal Court Records are Being Destroyed to Save Money”
From the Article:
The federal courts are destroying millions of judicial case records that have been stored in the Federal Records Centers of the National Archives for decades, all in an effort to save money.
The plan is to destroy all records on cases that did not go to trial that were filed between 1970 and 1995. For other records, the federal judiciary has reduced the current record retention time from 25 to 15 years in an effort to cut costs. All cases that went to trial or were filed before 1970 will be kept.
When a federal case is filed, it is held in the U.S. District Court of record for a period of time, but is ultimately transferred to one of the Federal Records Centers in 17 cities around the country. The National Archives charges the courts a storage fee for holding these documents; last year the fee was over $6.2 million.
The new retention plan will help save $7.7 million over the next 10 years.
However, the decision to destroy 79,000 boxes filled with civil cases, 43,000 boxes of criminal cases and over 500,000 bankruptcy records is cause for concern among legal historians and advocates for public access to information.