Friday, October 14, 2016

US Federal Courts PACER Fees Litigation

US Federal Courthouse Las Cruces NM

An article posted at (Quartz) discusses the court case regarding fees for the public use of the US Federal Courts PACER system.  The article notes:
“the paywall that surrounds Pacer is facing what may be its most serious test since the service emerged 28 years ago. Judge Ellen Huvelle of the US district court in Washington DC is expected to decide in the coming days whether a lawsuit accusing the government of setting Pacer fees at unlawfully high rates can proceed. 
The case, which is seeking class-action certification, is being led by three nonprofits: the National Veterans Legal Service Program, the National Consumer Law Center, and the Alliance for Justice. Each group says it has downloaded documents from Pacer and incurred charges alleged to exceed the cost of providing the records. All say the setup violates the E-Government Act of 2002, which authorizes the judiciary to “prescribe reasonable fees”—and which the plaintiffs argue should limit the government to charge users “only to the extent necessary” to make the information available.”
The full article is worth reading because it provides some explanation of fee waivers and, the total amount of revenue generated that supports court automation that is not provided by Congress in budget appropriation.  We would also point out that there are additional issues such as costs relating to data privacy, redaction, and management that are not addressed in the article.