Thursday, September 17, 2009

Plea for Better Access to PACER

PACER is the online docketing system for federal courts. We have a subscription, and reference librarians will happily do searches and retrieve material for law faculty and law students for academic projects.

Why do we restrict it? Well, because we can't afford to have the bills pile up. Erika Wayne, a law librarian at Stanford, makes a plea for much wider, easier, and cheaper access to this important database funded by taxpayers: What public access?, Nat'l L.J., Sept. 14, 2009. If you agree with Erika, the article includes a link to a petition where you can speak out.

The graphic above is the beginning of a pleading we downloaded from a district court proceeding in United States v. Padilla. It's great to be able to get material like this. Not so long ago, we would have needed to find a courier to go to the court or pay the court (in advance) to photocopy and mail the document. The question is: should access be even better?

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