The federal judiciary this month removed years of court records from its online archives, drawing concern from attorneys, journalists, researchers and open-record advocates who rely on remote access to files.
Court files that are no longer available on PACER include cases from the U.S. courts of appeals for the Second, Seventh, Eleventh and Federal circuits. To access a case filed in the Second Circuit before Jan. 1, 2010, for example, an email or written request must be sent to the clerk’s office, which will charge $30 for the entire file and send it by email.
PACER charges are 10 cents per page, but opinions are free.
The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts released a statement Tuesday saying a change was made to the PACER architecture to prepare for the Next Generation of the Judiciary’s Case Management/Electronic Case Files System. NextGen replaces the older CM/ECF system and provides improvements for users, including a single sign-on for PACER and NextGen.
“As a result of these architectural changes, the locally developed legacy case management systems in four courts of appeal and one bankruptcy court are now incompatible with PACER, and therefore the judiciary is no longer able to provide electronic access to the closed cases on those systems,” the Administrative Office statement said. “The dockets and documents in these cases can be obtained directly from the relevant court.”