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. Based on several recent Indy Star articles, I would agree that being a case worker would be really hard. You would see the worst of humanity on a daily basis; and when things go wrong guess who gets blamed??!! Not biological parent!! Best of luck to those who entered that line of work.

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  3. Don't believe me, listen to Pacino: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6bC9w9cH-M

  4. Law school is social control the goal to produce a social product. As such it began after the Revolution and has nearly ruined us to this day: "“Scarcely any political question arises in the United States which is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question. Hence all parties are obliged to borrow, in their daily controversies, the ideas, and even the language, peculiar to judicial proceedings. As most public men [i.e., politicians] are, or have been, legal practitioners, they introduce the customs and technicalities of their profession into the management of public affairs. The jury extends this habitude to all classes. The language of the law thus becomes, in some measure, a vulgar tongue; the spirit of the law, which is produced in the schools and courts of justice, gradually penetrates beyond their walls into the bosom of society, where it descends to the lowest classes, so that at last the whole people contract the habits and the tastes of the judicial magistrate.” ? Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

  5. Attorney? Really? Or is it former attorney? Status with the Ind St Ct? Status with federal court, with SCOTUS? This is a legal newspaper, or should I look elsewhere?

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