On August 10, 2014, PACER, the database for federal court documents, announced the removal of access to certain case files including entire categories of documents coming from five courts, including the Second Circuit. (Generally, all documents prior to 2010 were removed.) According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the change was made to prepare for the implementation of the Next Generation of the Judiciary’s Case Management/Electronic Case Files System. The removal has drawn heavy criticism from attorneys, journalists, researchers, and open-record advocates who rely on remote access to files. While the files are still available, a requester must now send an email or written request to the court clerk’s office to obtain the records. The cost is 50 cents per page by contacting the court; PACER costs are 10 cents per page.

This blog post rounds up several significant articles reporting on or responding to the PACER situation.

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts’ informational page regarding the removal of certain information from the PACER database, indicating that the removal is the result of an upgrade to a new system for the management of electronic case files and that the old are not compatible with the new system.

The Second Circuit’s website discussing the issue

Library Journal article about the removal

ABA Journal article about the removal

Washington Post article about the removal

TechDirt describing PACER’s excuse as “weak, nonsensical”

ArsTechnica describes Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts as Shrugging Off the Controversy

BBC Noting that “Landmark Civil Rights Records” Deleted

Free Law Project joining several organizations in requesting access

Will PACER’s records removal motivate use of software alternatives? Via ibraryguy

Why the federal court record system PACER is so broken, and how to fix it via GigaOm

Blog Post: “The latest really big screwup with PACER and CM/ECF requires a quick fix, then serious reflection, but not utter disdain for a judicial records system that is a triumph of good government”

From UNC Law: What Happened to the Information Removed from PACER?