Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is an electronic public access service operated by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AOUSC) that provides access to case and docket information from Federal Appellate, District, and Bankruptcy courts on a cost-recovery basis. PACER is available to anyone who registers for an account but historically, PACER has not been a part of the FDLP.
The most recent upgrade benefiting PACER users is the revised fee schedule. At the March 16, 2010 meeting of the Judicial Conference, the AOUSC was granted leeway to find ways to increase public access to court records.
Since 2003, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) has requested non-fee access to PACER and, in 2006, the Judicial Conference initiated a pilot project that expanded access to a limited number of depository libraries. In September 2006, GPO conducted a survey of depository libraries to determine which libraries currently use PACER and which libraries would use PACER if it were offered through the FDLP. GPO received pdf263 responses (12 KB) to the survey and the survey data was used to support another request for access. The PACER working group, an advisory body to the AOUSC, recommended the implementation of a one year pilot project to assess the effect of free public access through the FDLP to the Court Administration and Case Management Commission. The request was approved by the Judicial Conference in September 2007.
Pilot for PACER Access at Federal Depository Libraries
In 2007, GPO partnered with the AOUSC to undertake a pilot to provide free public access to Federal court records to 17 depository libraries. The pilot, which was not to extend 24 months, was suspended for evaluation after 11 months. Data collected during that time indicates that the resource was underutilized by the targeted population—potential users who were unlikely to go to the court house or establish a PACER account.