The Administrative Office of the U.S Courts on June 28 will launch a redesigned informational website for the Judiciary’s electronic court records system, known as PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records).
The new PACER website includes features that will make it easier for users to learn how to navigate the system, find what they are looking for more quickly, and understand the fee structure for downloading records. The update is also designed to improve accessibility for people with disabilities.
It is the first major update of the PACER website in a decade. The website, now located at pacer.uscourts.gov, provides information about the PACER service and is the portal to PACER applications. The website upgrade was undertaken in response to feedback from users and as part of the Judiciary’s ongoing effort to improve public access. The new website also will allow the AO to collect additional analytical data to inform future enhancements.
“We are pleased to release this new version of the PACER website that will enable the public to not only access and use it more easily, but also have a better understanding of the electronic public access services that the Judiciary offers,” said Jane MacCracken, programs division chief in the Administrative Office’s Court Services Office.
PACER is a service of the federal Judiciary that enables the public to search online for case information from federal district, appellate, and bankruptcy courts. It was established over 30 years ago by the Judicial Conference of the United States, the policy-making body of the federal courts, as a way to improve public access to court information. Today, PACER provides instantaneous access to more than 1 billion documents – nearly all the documents filed by a court or the parties in a case.
The updated website takes advantage of the latest technologies and design best practices to improve usability and accessibility. New features include:
- More modern navigation tools with helpful graphical aids.
- Simplified and easy-to-grasp instructions for registering for a PACER account.
- Mobile-friendly design for use with hand-held devices.
- More user-friendly directions for locating specific records with systemwide searches or court-specific searches.
- Directions for easy access to free judicial opinions on govinfo.gov, the website for the U.S. Government Publishing Office.
- More information about pricing in simplified formats. Records downloaded from PACER are free unless a user accumulates over $30 in charges in a single quarter. The charges are 10 cents per page, with multi-page documents capped at $3.
- A page that outlines how to apply for fee exemptions in the case of researchers and other eligible groups.
- A set of accessibility tools for people with disabilities allowing them to, for example, adjust text size and contrast elements, or, to access documents through a screen reader.
- A new tool to search for court-specific information. The website consolidates information about each court, such as court address and contact information, CM/ECF (Case Management/Electronic Case Files) version, counties served by the court, and unique flag definitions used by filers and the courts.
The new PACER website is part of the Judiciary’s ongoing efforts to improve its electronic access to court information. Last year, the Judiciary created the Electronic Public Access Public User Group to provide advice and feedback on ways to improve PACER and other electronic record services. The public user group, made up of a cross-section of PACER users, met for the first time on Feb. 28, 2020. Their next meeting is scheduled for June 29, 2020 and will take place via teleconference. The group includes volunteer members from the legal profession, media, government, and academia.
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