PDF Pffft: Outdated Database of Court Records Begins Actively Removing Recent Cases

PACER is a terrific acronym, but that's about all the Public Access to Court Electronic Records gets right. By almost all accounts, the system to search and download records constitutionally guaranteed to be made public is outdated, clumsy and loaded with bugs — and incredibly expensive for the average bank account. The tool that many journalists and public activists use for research to hold officials accountable charges 10-cents for every search and 10-cents for every downloaded page.

As many have noted, this almost certainly violates the law concerning PACER, which says that the Judicial Conference can only "prescribe reasonable fees… to reimburse expenses incurred in providing these services." And yet the fees go way, way beyond what's needed to maintain the (again, horrible) system which they refuse to update.

Unfortunately, the news about PACER only gets worse, according to TechDirt. According to an announcement hidden on PACER.gov, a slew of information on cases in U.S. Court of Appeals across the country were removed from the database as of August 10, 2014. The slates are wiped clean at points as recent as 2010 and include: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd, 7th, 11th and Federal Circuits, as well as the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California. TechDirt has the right of it:

…to actively start removing a bunch of cases…seems ridiculous and excessive. Yes, PACER is horribly designed and managed, but it's not like the storage costs for some old PDFs is that high. Especially as storage keeps getting cheaper and cheaper. Does someone down at the Administrative Office of the US Courts want me to send them an external 2 TB hard drive? They run about $100 these days...

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Brandon Perkins
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