Loss of Access to Court Records Causes Concern

Law librarians and others in the legal community were caught by surprise earlier this month when an online warehouse for U.S. appellate, district, and bankruptcy court records suddenly cut off access to several documents from five courts.

Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is an electronic public access service that allows users to obtain case and docket information online. PACER is maintained by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and is a popular resource for attorneys, librarians, researchers, and the public.

On August 10, PACER announced that it was eliminating access to certain case files from the 2nd, 7th, 11th, and Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals as well as the Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California. A statement on the PACER Website attributed the decision to changes in PACER’s architecture stemming from the implementation of a new generation of the federal judiciary’s Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system.

“As a result of these architectural changes, the locally developed legacy case management systems in the five courts … are now incompatible with PACER; therefore, the judiciary is no longer able to provide electronic access to the closed cases on those systems,” the statement read. “The dockets and documents in these cases can be obtained directly from the relevant court. All open cases, as well as any new filings, will continue to be available on PACER.”

For more information, see this post from the Legal Times Blog.

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