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Law Technology: The Connected Lawyer
Benefits of PACER
Bonnie Scucha points us toward an article from the federal courts describing the effects of PACER. PACER is the electronic access system that allows users to access and retrieve electronic copies of court files. The article reports that:
Hundreds of millions of pages of court documents retrieved online each year by customers who numbers are approaching 750,000. Less attention, however, has focused on PACER’s impact on court staffs.
“It’s definitely changed the way our office does business, and I think it’s been a change for the better,” said Monica Menier, clerk of the bankruptcy court in the Middle District of Louisiana.
“Back in the paper world, we constantly had law firm runners who came to the clerk’s office to make copies of case files. They’d have to drive to the courthouse, find a parking place, feed the meter, and pay 50 cents per copy. Helping them consumed a lot of staff time,” she said. “Those days are gone.”
David Weaver, clerk of court and court administrator in the Eastern District of Michigan, offers a similar assessment. “We once had 12 case-searching terminals in a public area of our office, but eight of those terminals are gone. Very little walk-up business remains. We don’t have file clerks anymore.”
I just wish that our courts in Illinois would realize the benefits of allowing us to have remote electronic access to court files. I consider it a terrible shame that it is much easier for me to retrieve a document from a federal court file in Seattle, Texas, or New Jersey, than it is for me to retrieve a document from DuPage County, where I practice regularly.
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