PACER turns 25

December 10, 2013
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PACER is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The service, Public Access to Court Electronic Records, was approved in September 1988 by the Judicial Conference of the United States. Goodbye paper, hello computer.

PACER, coupled with the Case Management/Electronic Case Files management system that started in the 1990s, has made life easier for attorneys, judges and clerks. Lawyers now could file a document after the courthouse closed and still make the deadline. Paper was no longer king in clerk’s offices, thanks to the online access and case management.

Reporters also appreciate the ability to access court records and activity at all hours of the day.

“PACER was one of the most significant progressive steps in the implementation of technologies in the courts,” said Michael Kunz, clerk of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, in a release from the United States Courts. “It brought information from the clerk’s office to desktop computers located in law offices, government agencies, business entities and the news media. Stakeholders in the justice system overwhelmingly endorsed it as an efficient system.”

Kuntz’s court became one of the first sites for PACER.

He also said if it weren’t for PACER and the Case Management/Electronic Case Files management system that started in the 1990s, court staff would have been quickly overwhelmed by the caseloads of the last 25 years.

Back in the day, users had to use dial-in telephone modems to receive docket information and see thumbnail case summaries on their computer screens. Case documents were still only available at the courthouse. How times have changed. Now attorneys can pull up this information on smartphones and tablets from anywhere with an Internet connection. In the beginning, only a handful of courts used these services. Now, every federal court does.

Administrators are working on modernizing the CM/ECF system and PACER service to make it more user-friendly as well as preserving electronic dockets and opinions for posterity.
 

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  1. I have dealt with more than a few I-465 moat-protected government attorneys and even judges who just cannot seem to wrap their heads around the core of this 800 year old document. I guess monarchial privileges and powers corrupt still ..... from an academic website on this fantastic "treaty" between the King and the people ... "Enduring Principles of Liberty Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king. There are two principles expressed in Magna Carta that resonate to this day: "No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land." "To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice." Inspiration for Americans During the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense. The colonists believed they were entitled to the same rights as Englishmen, rights guaranteed in Magna Carta. They embedded those rights into the laws of their states and later into the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution ("no person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.") is a direct descendent of Magna Carta's guarantee of proceedings according to the "law of the land." http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/magna_carta/

  2. I'm not sure what's more depressing: the fact that people would pay $35,000 per year to attend an unaccredited law school, or the fact that the same people "are hanging in there and willing to follow the dean’s lead in going forward" after the same school fails to gain accreditation, rendering their $70,000 and counting education worthless. Maybe it's a good thing these people can't sit for the bar.

  3. Such is not uncommon on law school startups. Students and faculty should tap Bruce Green, city attorney of Lufkin, Texas. He led a group of studnets and faculty and sued the ABA as a law student. He knows the ropes, has advised other law school startups. Very astute and principled attorney of unpopular clients, at least in his past, before Lufkin tapped him to run their show.

  4. Not that having the appellate records on Odyssey won't be welcome or useful, but I would rather they first bring in the stray counties that aren't yet connected on the trial court level.

  5. Aristotle said 350 bc: "The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of an modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.

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