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Accessing federal court opinions will soon get easier for the public. The U.S. Government Printing Office announced Wednesday that it is collaborating with the federal judiciary to launch a year-long pilot program that will make federal court opinions available for free on the Federal Digital System (or FDsys, at www.fdsys.gov) — the office’s centralized online database of government documents. Federal court opinions are already available for free on Pacer, but people will not need a log-in to locate opinions in FDsys, as they do with Pacer, said Karen Redmond, public information officer for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. “If you’re a lawyer, you may think, ‘Those opinions are easy to find,’ ” Redmond said. “ But it you’re a member of the public, you might not know about Pacer. This is more like one-stop shopping for the public. We’re just trying to enhance what is available.” FDsys already includes presidential budgets, legislation and information from federal agencies. The federal court opinions will be cross-referenced and linked to other opinions and relevant data in the online collection, said Mary Alice Baish, superintendent of documents at the printing office. “This makes it easy for the public to search through these opinions,” Baish said. “We will have information from all three branches in one place. I think it will be a huge benefit.” The Judicial Conference approved the project in March 2010 and Congress’ Joint Committee on Printing signed off in February. Twelve federal courts will participate in the pilot phase: the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 2d and 8th Circuits; the U.S. District Courts for the Districts of Minnesota, Rhode Island, Maryland, Idaho and Kansas; the Northern District of New York; 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. The project is expected to expand to include as many as 42 different courts over time. Karen Sloan can be contacted at [email protected].

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