Law & Crime: House Judiciary Committee Will Vote on Bill to Make All Federal Court Records Free for Public to Access

Law & Crime: House Judiciary Committee Will Vote on Bill to Make All Federal Court Records Free for Public to Access. “A committee in the U.S. House of Representatives is set to discuss whether publicly-funded information should be made available to the public for free. On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee will mark up a bill aimed at revamping the decades-old Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system which charges user fees for access to the 500 million-plus documents currently under its administration.”

Connecticut State Library: Connecticut State Library Receives $100,000 Grant from National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC)

Connecticut State Library: Connecticut State Library Receives $100,000 Grant from National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC). “The grant will support a two-year project, Uncovering Hidden Resources in New Haven Court Records,1700-1855, to enhance access to judicial records held in the State Archives. The project continues the work funded by two earlier grants to identify records related to interactions with the court system by underrepresented groups, especially enslaved persons, free persons of color, and indigenous persons. The richness of court records provides additional insights into these communities.”

State Archives of North Carolina: The Reemergence of Colonial Court Records

State Archives of North Carolina: The Reemergence of Colonial Court Records. “‘Accessing North Carolina’s Early Court Records’ is a special project funded by the National Historic Publications and Records Commission. Begun in 2019, this effort will reintroduce some of North Carolina’s oldest and forgotten historical records to the public. Colonial Court Records, SR.401, and District Superior Court Records, SR.398, span the years ca. 1665–1823. We’re happy to announce that in mid-2020, the project archivist for the project, Marie Stark, completed work on the Colonial Court Records, providing more detailed description to increase their visibility and, in the process, stabilizing their storage to facilitate preservation for years to come.”

Technical .ly: Volunteer data scrapers helped Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity preserve client court records

Technical .ly: Volunteer data scrapers helped Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity preserve client court records. “As the first state to implement the Clean Slate Law in 2018, Pennsylvania committed to sealing millions of criminal records. The law was enacted to remove educational and vocational disadvantages for people with eligible records, including those associated with certain misdemeanors and people found not guilty in court. While the law cleared barriers to housing, education and employment for individuals across the state, it indirectly created new technological barriers for Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE).”

United States Courts: Judiciary Launches Redesigned PACER Website

United States Courts: Judiciary Launches Redesigned PACER Website. “The Administrative Office of the U.S Courts on June 28 will launch a redesigned informational website for the Judiciary’s electronic court records system, known as PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). The new PACER website includes features that will make it easier for users to learn how to navigate the system, find what they are looking for more quickly, and understand the fee structure for downloading records. The update is also designed to improve accessibility for people with disabilities.”

TechCrunch: Building a search tool for state court data and analytics, Trellis adds Alon Shwartz as co-founder

TechCrunch: Building a search tool for state court data and analytics, Trellis adds Alon Shwartz as co-founder. “Trellis Research, the Los Angeles based startup building out a search and analytics tool for state court data, has raised $4.4 million in a new round of funding, and added Alon Shwartz as a technical co-founder.”

Reason: @UnsealieCourt, a New Twitter Feed for News About Public Access to Court Records

Reason: @UnsealieCourt, a New Twitter Feed for News About Public Access to Court Records. “I’ve been researching this subject for several years now, and I’ve litigated about a dozen such cases, from California and Washington to Florida and Vermont (no Maine yet). I often blog about such matters, and now I’ve set up a special feed, @UnsealieCourt (pardon the pun, if it is pardonable), for news updates on the subject.”

The Washington Post: Should the public pay a dime for access to court records?

The Washington Post: Should the public pay a dime for access to court records?. “The federal judiciary charges 10 cents per page to pull up court files from its online record repository. The fees can add up quickly, and users must consider whether each click to view a public record is worth the cost. But a lawsuit in court Monday in Washington challenges the government’s paywall to search online for case documents through the service known as PACER, an acronym for Public Access to Court Electronic Records.”

Government Technology: Vermont Attorneys Leverage Open Source Expungement Plug-In

Government Technology: Vermont Attorneys Leverage Open Source Expungement Plug-In. “A Vermont Code for America brigade, Code for BTV, designed a Google Chrome extension to scrape data from criminal dockets found on the state’s legacy court database to autofill expungement and record sealing petitions.”

Politico: The Federal Courts Are Running An Online Scam

Politico: The Federal Courts Are Running An Online Scam. “The U.S. federal court system rakes in about $145 million annually to grant access to records that, by all rights, belong to the public. For such an exorbitant price—it can cost hundreds of dollars a year to keep up with an ongoing criminal case—you might think the courts would at least make it easy to access basic documents. But you’d be wrong. The millions of dollars the courts have reaped in user fees have produced a website unworthy of the least talented of Silicon Valley garage programmers; 18 years since its online birth, PACER remains a byzantine and antiquated online repository of legal information.”

SwissInfo: Study finds Big Data eliminates confidentiality in court judgements

SwissInfo: Study finds Big Data eliminates confidentiality in court judgements. “Swiss researchers have found that algorithms that mine large swaths of data can eliminate anonymity in federal court rulings. This could have major ramifications for transparency and privacy protection.”

Rapid City Journal: South Dakotans will soon be able to access court records from any computer

Rapid City Journal: South Dakotans will soon be able to access court records from any computer. “If a South Dakotan wants to see public court records, they can only do that by looking them up on computer at a state courthouse during work hours between Monday and Friday…. So to help improve access to court records, the UJS is currently piloting a program that will eventually allow the public to see records from any computer, said Greg Sattizahn, administrator of the South Dakota Unified Judicial System. The website will be similar to the PACER website, which lets people view and download federal court records for a fee.”

Boston Globe: SJC weighing whether to make records public for thousands of criminal court hearings

Boston Globe: SJC weighing whether to make records public for thousands of criminal court hearings. “The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments Tuesday about whether the courts should release records from thousands of hearings where clerks decided to dismiss criminal cases behind closed doors, even after finding there was enough evidence to issue charges.”

Politico: The Federal Courts Are Running An Online Scam

Politico: The Federal Courts Are Running An Online Scam. “…I’m here to tell you that PACER—Public Access to Court Electronic Records—is a judicially approved scam. The very name is misleading: Limiting the public’s access by charging hefty fees, it has been a scam since it was launched and, barring significant structural changes, will be a scam forever.”