November 24, 2020

A Bill to Eliminate the Paywall to Federal Court Records Introduced in U.S. House of Representatives

From Sen. Mike Quigley (D-IL):

Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley who serves as Chair of the Congressional Transparency Caucus, introduced the bipartisan Electronic Court Records Reform Act (ECRRA) to eliminate the paywall on public court records. The legislation, which he introduced along with Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins (GA-09), also modernizes the antiquated website which provides access to federal court filings and case records.

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ECRRA would guarantee free public access to federal court records through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system, which currently charges the public a fee to access documents. The bill would also require updates to the PACER system, including adding a function to enable all users to search its catalog of court documents easily. Currently, litigants are handicapped because they cannot conduct research through the system.

The Electronic Court Records Reform Act:

• Makes accessing court records in the PACER System free to the public rather than charging per page.

• Requires improvements to the PACER System to make documents more accessible.

• Promotes accessibility by enabling direct links to documents.

• Requires audio and visual court records be made available on the PACER System.

• Consolidates the Case Management/Electronic Filing System (CM/ECF) to ensure uniform access for all litigants.

• Updates CM/ECF with new technology in order to enhance security.

Read the Complete Announcement

UPDATE (2/14) Public Knowledge Applauds Bill Eliminating Paywalls from Public Court Records Access

NOTE: A Growing Amount of PACER Material is Available FOR FREE via RECAP (from the Free Law Project)

See Also: Tesla and Trump: The Top PACER Documents of 2018 (via Free Law Project)

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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