PACER update

Reposted from the AALL Advocacy listserv:

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) is making progress on updates to PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), and the conversion to the Next Generation Case Management/Electronic Case File (CM/ECF).  The Second Circuit Court of Appeals is moving to the new system on Monday, October 20, 2014 (http://www.ca2.uscourts.gov/).  Information on the upgrades is available at https://www.pacer.gov/announcements/quarterly/qa201410.pdf.  The conversion has included some frustration over the lack of transparency and input over the process.

On August 10, 2014, the AO released a brief announcement stating that cases from five courts would be removed from the PACER website:

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit (prior to January 1, 2010)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit (prior to CM/ECF conversion)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit (prior to January 1, 2010)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal District (prior to March 1, 2012)
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central Division of California (prior to May 1, 2001)

The day after the announcement, the documents indicated were removed.  The changes to PACER were made in anticipation of revamping the computer system.  At the time, reassurances were made that the documents no longer available as of August 11th would still be accessible from the relevant courts.  Ultimately the document take-down was a technology compatibility problem, but it led to an uproar over access.  The suddenness of the removal and lack of notice to users caused the consternation.  This has been an ongoing theme: that PACER is not as open and available as it should be.

In mid-September, AO announced its plan to restore the documents that had been removed by converting them to PDF format.  The four appellate courts’ information will be restored by the end of October 2014.  A solution is still being sought for the California Bankruptcy Court.  Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy wrote a letter (found at https://law.resource.org/pacer/senate.gov.20140912.pdf) that was instrumental in having the documents restored to the website.

The series of events involving PACER and the interruption in access bolsters the argument and ongoing push for an open-access platform for these federal case documents.  Supporters argue that access to court records should be freely available and hope that they will influence AO to provide open access in the near future.

Administrative Office Will Restore Access to Records on PACER

Reposted from the Government Relations Office’s (GRO) Washington E-Bulletin:

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC) has announced it will restore access to all cases that were removed from PACER in August. Records from the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second, Seventh, Eleventh, and Federal Circuits will be available on PACER by the end of October. The AOUSC is still developing a solution to restore access to records from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California.

AALL thanks Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), whose letter to U.S. District Judge John D. Bates, the director of the Administrative Office, prompted the AOUSC’s response. We appreciate the efforts of Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), John Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Jason Chaffetz (D-Utah), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who wrote to Judge Bates for more information and requested that the AOUSC conduct a public comment period on the NextGen PACER system. AALL will continue to work with the AOUSC and members of Congress to ensure permanent public access to and preservation of court records.

Congress.gov Officially Out of Beta

From the LOC News Releases:

More Features, Enhancements Added

The free legislative information website, Congress.gov, is officially out of beta form, and beginning today includes several new features and enhancements. URLs that include beta.Congress.gov will be redirected to Congress.gov The site now includes the following:

New Feature: Congress.gov Resources

  • A new resources section providing an A to Z list of hundreds of links related to Congress
  • An expanded list of “most viewed” bills each day, archived to July 20, 2014

New Feature: House Committee Hearing Videos

  • Live streams of House Committee hearings and meetings, and an accompanying archive to January, 2012

Improvement: Advanced Search

  • Support for 30 new fields, including nominations, Congressional Record and name of member

Improvement: Browse

  • Days in session calendar view
  • Roll Call votes
  • Bill by sponsor/co-sponsor

When the Library of Congress, in collaboration with the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and the Government Printing Office (GPO) released Congress.gov as a beta site in the fall of 2012, it included bill status and summary, member profiles and bill text from the two most recent congresses at that time – the 111th and 112th.

Since that time, Congress.gov has expanded with the additions of the Congressional Record, committee reports, direct links from bills to cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, legislative process videos, committee profile pages, nominations, historic access reaching back to the 103rd Congress and user accounts enabling saved personal searches. Users have been invited to provide feedback on the site’s functionality, which has been incorporated along with the data updates.

Plans are in place for ongoing enhancements in the coming year, including addition of treaties, House and Senate Executive Communications and the Congressional Record Index.

The site takes the place of the legacy site THOMAS. Named for Thomas Jefferson, THOMAS was launched by the Library in 1995 as a bipartisan initiative of Congress and averages 10 million visits each year. The system has been updated over the years, but the foundation can no longer support the capabilities that today’s Internet users have come to expect, including access on mobile devices.

Congress.gov is the official source for federal legislative information. A collaboration among the Library of Congress, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Government Printing Office, Congress.gov is a free resource that provides searchable access to bill status and summary, bill text, member profiles, the Congressional Record, committee reports, direct links from bills to cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, legislative process videos, committee profile pages and historic access reaching back to the 103rd Congress.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.

Possible restoration of PACER docs

Reposted from the AALL Advocacy listserv-

The Washington Post reports this afternoon that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has a plan to restore online access to the PACER documents that were removed.  The full article can be found here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/09/19/online-court-archive-pacer-says-it-will-restore-access-to-missing-records/

The GRC will be following up with the AO’s office to clarify what is being reported here, including whether or not just the docket sheets, or the entire case files, will be made available.  Stay tuned for more developments.

Leslie A. Street
Assistant Director for Research and Instruction
Clinical Assistant Professor of Law
Kathrine R. Everett Law Library
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
919-843-4959
lastreet@email.unc.edu

AALL Responds to Documents Removed from PACER

Reposted from the AALL Advocacy listserv:

The Government Relations Office, together with the Government Relations Committee and the Digital Access to Legal Information Committee, have crafted a letter to send to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts regarding the removal of information from PACER.  The letter, will be sent next week and posted to the GRO’s website for all members to view. AALL has successfully achieved support for the letter from over 20 different organizations who share our concerns with the need for the removed documents to be restored for public access.

Leslie A. Street
Assistant Director for Research and Instruction
Clinical Assistant Professor of Law
Kathrine R. Everett Law Library
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
919-843-4959
lastreet@email.unc.edu

Universal Citation Guide – new edition

From Hein’s blog:

Almost 20 years has passed since the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) published The Final Report of the Task Force on Citation Formats. Since then, there have been many changes in the way information is gathered, shared, and accessed, making the need for universal citation (also known as public domain citation) systems even greater.

As states publish primary documents on their own web sites and researchers utilize a wide variety of options to access legal materials, it is necessary to have a universal system of citation that helps users locate information across all formats, platforms, and publishers.

The Universal Citation Guide, 3rd ed. recognizes the current practices of legal researchers who often consult an electronic research tool without ever seeing a print volume of a reporter or code sitting on a library shelf.

https://www.wshein.com/blog/2014/09/heincites-issue-35-14-the-first-new-edition-in-over-a-decade/

LexisNexis News

Yesterday it was annouced that LexisNexis is launching a new user interface.  This new Lexis Advance interface is designed to produce results in fewer mouse clicks than previous iterations.  You can read more here.

 

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