PACER Increases Electronic Access Fees

Accessing federal court cases via the federal court’s online document system, called PACER for Public Access to Court Electronic Records, is going to cost you a couple more pretty pennies.  Two pennies per page, to be exact; the new fee is 10 cents per page, up from 8 cents.  Some good news for penny-pinching researchers, however, is the fact that users who incur less than $15 in charges in any quarterly cycle will not be charged a fee – that is up to 150 pages free per quarter!  You can’t beat free, and as they say, a penny saved is a penny earned.  Currently, users who incur less than $10 a quarter do not have to pay.

Another piece of good news came with the fee increase announcement – a new policy discouraging federal courts from sealing entire civil case files.  Under this policy, judges should seal an entire case only when it is “required by statute or rule or justified by a showing of extraordinary circumstances,” according to the Judicial Conference of the United States in its statement approving the price increase.  Additionally, an order sealing an entire case “should contain findings justifying the sealing, and the seal should be lifted when the reason for sealing has ended.”

Never utilized PACER?  It is an electronic public access service that allows users to obtain case and docket information from Federal Appellate, District and Bankruptcy courts.  Are you a fan of PACER?  Why so?  I offer a penny for your thoughts. . .