Sunday, October 17, 2010

Judiciary Announces Assessment and Improvements to PACER Electronic Case Access Portal

The Federal Judiciary has released an assessment of the PACER service, find it here.

Although the video touts the availability of Digital Audio files, according to PACER's website, only a few courts have made the service available, and the recording is only available if the presiding judge decides to post it on PACER.


Digital Audio Recording Project

Digital audio recordings are now available to the public via internet access to the PACER system. In March 2010, the Judicial Conference approved the plan to make digital audio recordings available on PACER after a two-year pilot project showed significant public interest in accessing these files. Prior to the pilot, access was only possible by obtaining a CD recording from a court clerks office for $26. The new digital files cost $2.40.

The presiding judge determines if the audio recording will be posted on PACER. Digital audio recording is used in most bankruptcy and many district courts (where magistrate judges account for most of the usage).

The following seven courts provide access to audio files through the PACER system: the U.S. District Courts in Nebraska and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts in the Eastern District of North Carolina, Northern District of Alabama, Southern District of New York, Rhode Island and Maine.

Having more courts participate and making it an "opt-out" system would make PACER truly revolutionary in digital audio recordings and be a tremendous money-saver.

From the assessment, it looks like a number of good new changes are coming to PACER.  It is amazing to see that PACER grew to over a million accounts by the end of 2009.

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