A dozen federal courts have been selected to participate in a pilot program in which the federal judiciary and the Government Printing Office are partnering to provide free public access to court opinions through the GPO’s FDSys system.
The one-year pilot project was approved by the Judicial Conference in March 2010, and the GPO received approval from the Joint Committee on Printing – often referred to as the oldest joint committee of the Congress – in February 2011.
When fully implemented later this year, the pilot will include two courts of appeals, seven district courts, and three bankruptcy courts. In March, the Judicial Conference approved expansion of the pilot to include up to 30 additional courts.
The judiciary continually has sought ways to enhance public access to court opinions. Free access to opinions in all federal courts is currently available via the judiciary’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records service (PACER).
The initial 12 participating courts are the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second and Eighth Circuits; the U.S. district courts for the Districts of Minnesota, Rhode Island, Maryland, Idaho, and Kansas, the Northern District of New York, and the Northern District of Alabama; and the U.S. bankruptcy courts for the District of Maine, the Southern District of Florida, and the Southern District of New York.
Note: There are a number of sites that aggregate material (for free) from U.S. Federal Courts.
One that comes quickly to mind is Justia. They offer access to opinions from U.S. Federal Courts of Appeal and in some cases provide free, full text of dockets and documents from Federal District Courts. Free Court Dockets and Recap are two other sources worth knowing about.