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Attacking a Pay Wall That Hides Public Court Filings (nytimes.com)
193 points by howard941 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 83 comments





In the interim there is a solution for some users in the form of an extension - "RECAP" - for Chrome and Mozilla that adds to an archive every initial download of a docket or case file (accessed through PACER) [0]. Thereafter, users with the extension installed will be alerted as to whether the docket or file is available for free in the archive. Practically, this only helps to the extent that the RECAP extension is installed by users, primarily attorneys and support staff, and for dockets and case files that are generally sought out.

In passing, charging fees is clearly unfair given the role courts play in our society. At the state level, such as in New York state courts, filings are freely accessible.

[0] https://free.law/recap/


New York has free access, but that really varies widely by state/county/district. Some are paywalled, some aren't online at all.

Even crazier: the local courthouse in my home town (in West Virginia) charges $1/page even when you make the copies yourself with your cell phone.

Governments are sometimes just like people -- they get addicted to revenue streams and have a hard time adapting when those revenues change or go away.


Sidenote - this hilarious deposition was in a case about this exact issue (fees for copies of public records). https://youtu.be/PZbqAMEwtOE

This was gold.

Might not be legal. Check your state's FOIA statutes. There are usually stated limits to the charges an agency can put on fulfilling requests.

FOIA laws generally only apply to the executive branch, not the courts

It could be said that because they have to physically go and find the document, and hand it over for you to take a photo of is the reason for the costs.

That would make sense, but in this particular case the fee is for copies of deeds and other public documents that are in bound volumes in the record room.

It’s entirely self service.


There still is the cost of making and maintaining those volumes, for building and maintaining the record room, for having somebody check how many photos you made, for billing, etc, etc.

With fairly high fixed costs and, likely, demand varying a lot as a function of price, picking a break-even price point isn’t really possible up-front.

For example, if they were to charge $1,000,000.— per page, chances are they won’t recover costs, but that doesn’t imply they should ask more.

I think governments should just give up on the idea of recovering costs on this kind of service. That may mean some people will benefit more from it than others, but then, be that so. Alternatively, put a reasonably high cap on the ability to query the system.


On the other hand, you usually pay a fee to get those documents processed and archived.

Then the price should be per document and not per page.

PACER's antiquated interface and dirty data have fueled a wildly profitable legal services industry.

The public deserves more than the base line of free access to court records. Give the public access to clean normalized case data like in LexisNexis and Westlaw's outrageously-priced products, including a full database dump for civic hackers to improve.

Aside: I worked on a product which relied on scraping PACER. A foolish integration test on our CI server once racked up a $50,000 PACER bill which we didn't notice until the end of the quarter.


The concept of “civic hacking” is an error of projection. Because user-generated data is valuable in other areas of tech, techies assume its valuable in civics. Unlike with Internet technology, user-generated data has little value in politics and the law. Knowing that 76% of district courts did something one way has little persuasive value compared to knowing two or three well-reasoned court of appeals opinions. The data is in fact out there-all federal cases are available for free on Google Scholar and various other sites. And nobody has done anything interesting with that information.

That is not to say that politics and law can’t be data driven. But the data we need in those areas is not data you can derive by analyzing user or government generated databases. We need “hard data” such as how different tax policies impact economic growth. That’s not the sort of data analysis “civic hacking” can give us.


The users are generating the data already: getting arrested and sued. This data is not yet a URL you can share. Sign up for PACER and see how hard it is to associate a credit card and look up one case. It is not accessible to the casual user.

Perhaps we have witnessed different types of citizen contribution. I am not suggesting data science. Many would happily join a volunteer endeavor to clean up our country's case database and build a great UI on top of it which encourages public interest in the judicial system.

> The data is in fact out there

It is not. There is no complete, real-time, or normalized open case data out there, and LexisNexis and Westlaw's products are not priced to be accessible to individual citizens.


> Many would happily join a volunteer endeavor to clean up our country's case database and build a great UI on top of it which encourages public interest in the judicial system.

What would be the value of that? What problem is that trying to solve that is worth giving up $140 million a year in revenue that’s currently coming almost entirely out of the pockets of lawyers and law firms?

> The data is in fact out there It is not. There is no complete, real-time, or normalized open case data out there, and LexisNexis and Westlaw's products are not priced to be accessible to individual citizens.

I’m not sure what you mean by “normalized” in this context, but Lexis and Westlaw do a ton of additional analysis on top of public cases at their own expense. That information isn’t in PACER. To generate it you’re talking about even more expense. And while the existing databases are not updated in real time, they’re quite complete for federal cases, which is all that PACER covers. And I’ve never seen an interesting application of that data beyond simply allowing you to read the cases.


>coming almost entirely out of the pockets of lawyers and law firms?

You mean their client's pockets? Thus making legal assistance more accessible for the wealthy than the poor.

And just because you can't think of a good use of the data doesn't mean there isn't one. I can think of dozens of analyses I would love to run on a large set of cases and filings. You could develop models to predict how likely the language used in a filing is to contribute to a favorable ruling. You could measure the speed with which filings are handled and compare it across jurisdictions. Picking a specific type of case and one where there's a jurisdictional split implicating administrability, you could develop a rough proxy measure for the relative costs of the alternative rules. Etc etc. And that's just the limited subset of what I randomly dreamt up in three seconds that I'm willing to take the time to type out on my phone.

Data analysis like that is possible and even relatively easy with a large, standardized, freely available data set (which BTW is what the person you are replying to meant by normalized). Twitter has been analyzed to death using NLP for that very reason.


> You mean their client's pockets? Thus making legal assistance more accessible for the wealthy than the poor.

The price of legal services is based on supply and demand, not individual lawyers’ cost structures. Moreover, the rules already allow free PACER access for the poor. I’d bet the large bulk of PACER fees are actually coming from lawyers representing corporations and well-off individuals.


> What would be the value of that? What problem is that trying to solve that is worth giving up $140 million a year in revenue that’s currently coming almost entirely out of the pockets of lawyers and law firms?

You have it exactly backwards here. There is no need to justify stopping the flow of money but for the flow of money to exist in the first place. There is no right to a business model for such a thing can only end in abject insanity of demanding that it rain so you can sell your umbrellas.

>I’m not sure what you mean by “normalized” in this context

[Database normalization](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Database_normalization) means ensuring that the data stays consistent across many sources and avoids redundancy. Issues like "There are two postings one for a Allan Smith in New York Court ABC Room A at 3pm on January 2nd, 1993 and one for Alan Smith in New York Court ABC Room A at 3pm on January 2nd, 1993 - which is correct?"

>but Lexis and Westlaw do a ton of additional analysis on top of public cases at their own expense. That information isn’t in PACER.

Then they have their own valid business model to sell their derivative works to supplement the public data that anyone else can get for free.


> You have it exactly backwards here. There is no need to justify stopping the flow of money but for the flow of money to exist in the first place. There is no right to a business model for such a thing can only end in abject insanity of demanding that it rain so you can sell your umbrellas.

No, you’re demanding the government give umbrellas away for free because people have a right to be protected from the rain. The government isn’t stopping you from distributing documents you got on PACER. It’s charging you for access to PACER itself.

> Issues like "There are two postings one for a Allan Smith in New York Court ABC Room A at 3pm on January 2nd, 1993 and one for Alan Smith in New York Court ABC Room A at 3pm on January 2nd, 1993 - which is correct?"

PACER just stores free-form PDF files. There is some metadata, but the substance of your example above would be in the PDF.

> Then they have their own valid business model to sell their derivative works to supplement the public data that anyone else can get for free.

That’s what they do. The original court opinions are free on PACER.


The opinions are free. The rest of the filings, which you need if you want information about a case which has not yet been decided, or if you want a fuller picture of what's going on in any case, are not.

Personally, I have no idea whether it's possible to do meaningful data analysis on PACER data, so I'm not necessarily arguing against your original point. But as a non-lawyer who sometimes gets interested in particular court cases, I find PACER fees obnoxious. Partly because the fees force me to think about whether I actually need a particular piece of information, which is so alien to the normal way I browse anything on the Web. And partly because the fees are the reason I have to actually deal with PACER's 90's-style interface: if all PACER data were free, I'm sure there would be at least one free website mirroring that data with a nicer interface.


I don't mind advocating against regulatory capture in general. If nothing else, improved access to this data will make the Westlas/LexisNexis industry more competitive.

There are a lot of ways governments generate revenue even if we want to restrict it to the legal industry. Obfuscating public information to the point that there's an oligopoly controlling access is fucked up.


You’re deeply confused about the situation if you think Westlaw and Lexis have anything to do with PACER. You use those services to access legal opinions. The underlying opinions are free on PACER and also usually posted on courts websites. Westlaw and LEXIS don’t index most of what’s in PACER. Conversely, PACER doesn’t contain most of what’s in Westlaw and LEXIS. PACER for the most part only has electronic files going back to the early 2000s. You can’t use it for serious legal research. Westlaw and Lexis have comprehensive data based of opinions going back to the 18th century because they went and scanned in all those paper records. (And West has been around since 1870 and has been building its collection ever since then.) The government (in fact, governments—there are hundreds of mostly autonomous court systems in the country) isn’t limiting access—it simply doesn’t have the data that makes West and Lexis so valuable.

Are you sure? I have not used Westlaw or Lexis, but from a quick search, both of them appear to offer services – albeit distinct from their 'main' services – that provide access to court dockets and corresponding documents [1] [2], which would account for the rest of what's in PACER.

[1] https://www.lexisnexis.com/en-us/products/courtlink-for-corp...

[2] https://legal.thomsonreuters.com/en/products/westlaw/dockets


You’re right, I forgot West/Lexis have docket tracking. I assume that gets data from PACER, but it also gets data from court “runners” (people who go to courts to get filings).

That being said, despite that the overlap between West/LEXIS is very small. The docket tracking is an adjunct service that you use in the unusual situation where you’re keeping tabs on a case you’re not participating in. Its not real time (day after) which is a big thing because the PACER/ECF notification is the official notice that triggers time periods and deadlines. It’s also vastly more expensive than PACER (like $50 per document).

That doesn’t address OP’s point, which is West/Lexis’s market dominance. And that is based on those systems having 200+ years of human annotated and indexed case law. PACER doesn’t have that data.


Exactly. Sounds like maybe courts should have higher filing fees.

What exactly is the “regulatory capture” here?

The higher than needed fees locking out competitors. Even if they didn't actually 'capture' them it is still regulation supporting their business model without a justifying good. Seat belts being compulsory may make more money for seat belt manufacturers but it isn't regulatory capture because it serves an actual purpose. Requiring all seatbelts be sourced domestically to shut out competitors would be regulatory capture however.

Are you seriously suggesting that PACER fees have any impact on competition? That’s like saying toll roads protect the business model of taxi companies. It’s completely nonsensical.

I am saying that taxi medallions have an impact on competition - that is a more appropriate analogy given the magnitude. It boosts the start up expense of competition considerably as opposed to just processing and serving the data at a discounted rate as a 'mirror'. Assuming about 30 KiB per page a mere Gigabyte comes out to about ~$3500. Which is vastly more than the about $0.08 of cost of 1 GB storage space.

It is a well known phenomenon given things like how quixotic the article 13 upload filter is because the expense locks out new competitors.


The concept of precedent in itself disagrees with you there - it isn't just a techie thing because a fundamental principle of law is consistency in application. The value may not be financial per say (nobody gets rich directly out of ensuring equal application of the law) but it has a major impact upon quality of life. While it may be used as an excuse to avoid thinking there is a value to precedent in itself in making the laws predictable and better in bounds of certainty.

Gathering the data of trials and judgement can prove when something isn't working and prove how things are actually working in the field better than even the best rhetorician. The question of 'should we be doing something' is separate from data.

But being able to get the cases together and point out that 'minimum/maximum sentences are constraining judges and juries since in 70% of the cases they note that they would go with lower/higher but they are constrained from it'. It can point out real problems with inequality in execution or corruption. Civic hacking is meant for accountability essentially to show how the system is or isn't working. Which is part of why resistance to it is so worrying.


That data is already out there. Almost the entire corpus of federal cases is available in data dumps online. I’ve never seen anything interesting done with it.

Don’t confuse my opposition to techno-optimism with opposition to accountability. The issue is not that we shouldn’t have accountability. It’s that there is already a ton of data out there, and civic hackers have had approximately zero impact with it. Because for the most part what you actually need is carefully controlled studies from real institutions, not “civic hacking.” Civic hacking is the techie version of “raising awareness.”


It's not just techies who think this is valuable. Yale Law's Information Society Project uses it.

My PACER bill always manages to end up north of $25 a quarter.

Reforms are sorely needed. Imagine google charging you (and your lawyer) $.10 per search plus $.10 per returned result.


In the scheme of waste in the legal field, I'm not sure PACER is a blip. (That's not a reason to never address it, but if we're prioritizing...)

For me (not a lawyer), my PACER usage never reaches the threshold where I get sent a bill. I can go research a case I'm interested in, download the relevant filings, read them over, search for related materials, and not get billed. If I really got into a case or couple of cases, maybe I'd get a bill that is less than an average hardcover book. Meanwhile, I've have spent some multiple of that amount on my own time.

I'd much rather a system like this than an ad-supported social network for legal filings.

My larger beef with PACER is the insanely poor user interface. However, it gets the job done.

Edit to add afterwards: Despite the above, I fully support making PACER taxpayer-funded and free-to-access.


Lucky you.

I’ve seen legal professionals not limit their queries, downloading 50 pages at $.10 each, when they’ve already downloaded the document umpteen times and only want to see the first or last page.

That also goes out the window when you want to read a 283-page filing including attachments.

Audio recordings (free) are starting to be made public at the 10th circuit. Looking forward to wider availability of them nationwide.


> That also goes out the window when you want to read a 283-page filing including attachments.

PACER has a $3 cap per document (no matter how many pages).


Last month I got billed $10.00 for a 100-page transcript.

March of last year I got billed $12.60 for a 126-page transcript.

Not sure where you're getting your information from.


We're both correct...

"Please note that there is a 30-page cap for documents and case-specific reports (e.g., docket report, creditor listing, claims register). You will not be charged more than $3 when you access documents or case-specific reports that are more than 30 pages. However, the 30-page cap does not apply to name search results, lists of cases, or transcripts (when available online)."

https://www.pacer.gov/psc/faq.html


As a data point, the article did mention a $3 cap.

The attacks on PACER suffer from a few misconceptions:

1) That PACER charges for people to access "the law." As the article points out, "judicial opinions are free" on PACER. They're also typically published as PDFs on the courts' websites.

2) That the "costs of storing and transmitting data have plunged, approaching zero." That may be true, but the cost of maintaining and upgrading an electronic filing and access system have not approached zero. And there is no free off-the-shelf system that does what PACER does.

3) That PACER is meant for access to public records. PACER is a read-only view of the courts' filing system for lawyers and the court to use. Because lawyers use it, lawyers pay for it. (Individuals representing themselves pro se can use it for free.) It may indeed be desirable to make these legal filings publicly available through some system. But PACER is not that system.

The issue is not really that "PACER should be free," because it's quite reasonable to charge lawyers a fee for a service they use that's provided by the courts. What you really want is something like the various "Open Government" searchable data sites that are out there. PACER is not that system--it's not easy for the public to use, it's search features are primitive, there is no way to do bulk downloads, it's running on the same systems as mission-critical ECF filing functions, etc.


But PACER itself bills itself as that system: "Public Access to Court Electronic Records."

If the mechanism for providing public access to court records is inefficient or poorly-done, let's fix that. Saying "we have to charge for PACER because PACER isn't the right way to do what PACER claims to do" doesn't seem valid to me.

Charge attorneys and other filing groups to use CMECF (the filing side of PACER) and make public access to download documents available for free. Or, make a bulk feed and database dump of documents available to download, like Wikipedia does, and let a group dedicated to open records access take up the charge. I'd rather have the government provide the search service but if it can't or won't, make the data available for free and allow for the opportunity for someone else to take up the charge.


It should be clear in HN of all places that what the product is named and what it does at a technical level is not the same thing. Technically, PACER is a view into the ECFS database, and it’s not set up for the sort of wide-spread public access you’re talking about. One could build such a system, but now you’re talking about building that system at substantial cost, while undercutting your PACER revenue. And I’m not clear what the public benefit is that justifies that.

I think in a common law system like ours, opinions must be available to the public as a matter of political morality. I don’t think that same moral justification extends to the other filings in cases, which don’t have the force of law. I think you need some utilitarian justification for incurring the cost of making these more widely available, and I don’t see a compelling one.


> I think in a common law system like ours, opinions must be available to the public as a matter of political morality

Any democracy deserves that, even civil law systems.


The decisions are based on what is contained in those other filings.

Decisions are written to be self contained.

Previous decisions are often referenced, which I believe is what gp was saying.

Which are also freely available correct since all decisions are freely available?

Isn't the point of this article and whole thread that there is no prohibition on their access, but often there are (unreasonable) financial barriers?

RECAP is doing just that.

The Public Access to Court Electronic Records system is not meant to provide public access to court electronic records?

It's not mentioned in the article but unlimited access to the full docket of a case is, or at least used to be, available for free at the courthouse itself using a courthouse computer. Of course, there's no guarantee the printers will be working and printing is not free.

"People seeking free access, the judicial system’s brief said, can visit the courthouse."

Missed that. However, visiting the courthouse is of little utility as they charge more to print per page than if you printed at home. Also, given the complexity of many cases, it's simply not feasible to go the Courthouse and wade through an entire docket - especially for neophytes unfamiliar with legal terminology.

The obvious wrong about Pacer is when a person doesn't have the financial means and wants to pursue by pro se.

The law was constructed in the interest of the public and self representation was deemed reasonable for justice to be always administered when a wrong has been committed and a person wants to seek a verdict.

Well if you're a person who has low finances and in a situation where no lawyer will take your case by interest or financial reasons. You can still file a lawsuit and have the filing fees waived. The problem will be how much it costs to print copies for yourself, the number of defendants and the judge (court). People underestimate how much is needed to print if you're unable to electronically file. Lawyers have access to the online filing system but pro se doesn't necessarily (depending on the state) and has to file in paper with mailing everything out.

Further more, the defendants may be a corporate entity with expensive lawyers on retainers, who have full access to every previous court verdict (similar to the situation) on PACER. They likely have a local database of the downloaded documents and where they can do advance searches. On the other hand the pro se is restricted by PACER in fear of the financial bill when searching and viewing documents to find something similar to his/her own situation.


As somebody who lives outside of US, this is rather shocking. In Switzerland all judicial proceedings are free and open for access and that is anchored in Law. Everything is accessible on the internet with no fees, registrations or any kind fo "wall".

This isn't just the U.S. Switzerland may be better, but Norway has similar issues https://www.wiumlie.no/2018/rettspraksis/10-22-returns Furthermore, as discussed in that link the entire EU has a 15-year "database" directive that limits free and open access [0]

[0] https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/protection-dat...


Thank you for the links. I have to admit it was an eye opening experience. We take our access to judicial proceedings (as well as laws, but that's beyond the point) as essentially a civic right, that seeing others nations embracing a different philosophy on the matter is quite shocking.

I think you’re conflating two different things. The US has one of the strongest traditions of free access to judicial proceedings. You can walk into pretty much any courtroom to watch a proceeding. Even when it’s a big corporate disputes involving confidential information, the court will only be sealed for so long as the confidential information is being actively discussed. And the court will force the parties, at their own expense, to carefully redact filings with confidential information so that they can be available publicly. In one court I practice in, the Federal Circuit, you need special permission to redact more than 15 unique words in a brief, even if it’s a big business disputes with tons of confidential information. That level of access is not the norm in Switzerland as I understand it: https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/society/understanding-the-justi....

> However, no other initiatives are anticipated to make the justice system more public. The judge is, for example, not too keen on the idea of publishing all judgments online. “That would require far too much effort to make things anonymous,” he explains. But the court does already publish the most interesting judgments.

But the government here is also not big on paying for things. Building a whole electronic system to disseminate these filings costs a lot of money. Philosophically there is a strong trend in the US that having a right to do something doesn’t mean the government has to pay to help you exercise that right.


Well they are legally free to share - it's just that the original source charges huge per-page fees.

Surprised the article (or the comments here), don't mention earlier efforts to tear down court paywalls, such as Aaron Swartz's scraping of 2.7 million documents from PACER: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/02/the-inside-story... .

There is a very similar case going on in Norway, where Håkon Wium Lie (creator of CSS) is being sued: https://www.wiumlie.no/2018/rettspraksis/06-11-blog.html

With update: https://www.wiumlie.no/2018/rettspraksis/10-22-returns It recaps most of what is in the first link while talking about how they both lost and won the court case

Library of Congress document search is great, and a good model for how PACER could be done more effectively. No user accounts, no paywalls, no ads. Just free access to documents owned by all of us.

10 cents per page is expensive. The paper and ink to print the document would probably cost less.

Bigger question: why is public documentation and legal filings paywalled at all?

Wasn't there an old legal precept that that law needs to be public? (Even Draco saw that as a requirement.) And judicial opinions are part of the law in our system with precedent.


> Wasn't there an old legal precept that that law needs to be public?

The Federal Courts argue that PACER is just "one avenue" of making the information public and that people can access the information for free by going to any Federal Courthouse.

I might buy that argument in 1999, but not in 2019.


They used to use the cost of creating copies as a threshold to prevent folks from getting things.

We just need a lawyer to take the time to point out that cost is negligible and the hosting costs would be nothing if they would do something like torrent the legal records :)


Because of a misguided doctrine/dogma that 'systems should pay for themselves directly and never levy any taxes'. While conceptually it might fit with getting revenue to scale with operating costs it has major issues including moral hazard that make it far more expensive.

In effect it ends up being a parasite on the system akin to corruption or literal highway robbery and it would have been far more sensible to just leave it free and do taxation and budgeting centrally.

It is akin to why bandits were treated with such harshness historically compared to other thieves of almost always being a capital crime. They did damage to the flow of goods and effectively 'broke the roads' because people feared to travel. That was a bad thing for everyone including the people in charge of force of arms so they dealt with the problem using the tool they knew best - violence.


I think the word you're looking for is "promulgation"

Is there a tracker/email reminder that allows you tracking cases? It would be nice to get updates about this case.

I got pay walled to read this. Cleared cookies. Paywall climbed; now reading about pay walls...

I'm sure a company like Google or Bing would be more than happy to store, index and serve the pages.

Google actually offered about 10 years ago not only to do that, but to pay the judiciary for the cost to get us the data, and to publish easily accessible continuously updated complete data dumps (IE so you download the xml for it all) . PACER turned it down.

Mainly because they make hundreds of millions on it, and this would stop them from doing that.

(and since people seem to have crazy views - no, google did not expect to make any money by doing this)


That is unfortunate. It would have driven legal costs down on legal search costs. WestLaw/LexisNexis have their place with their headers, but most of the time I am looking for a nuanced fact pattern in unpublished cases.

While it does not include filings, Google Scholar does have legal opinions. However, as far as I can tell, the collection of material has always been a bit random to me. By this, I mean Google Scholar includes published cases with proper citations (though I'm not sure for what years and its completeness) and a random collection of unpublished cases (not sure the rhyme or reason for some rulings being there and others not).

Random side note, Bloomberg Law is the only service I am aware of that allows you to do a pretty complete keyword search of PACER (at least for federal district courts, state courts vary). I'm pretty sure Westlaw and Lexis do not do this (also they charge an exorbitant price to do a search, while Bloomberg charges the PACER fee for the first time a document is pulled by anyone plus the seat the license fee). Docket Navigator is a pretty good product too.


The collection is random precisely because we could not get folks like PACER to give us data, even when we offered to pay for the cost of production.

The scholar team is small. Anurag[1] thought there was no reason law shouldn't be accessible to normal people too. So we pushed on that direction (I lead an eng team in DC at the time that worked on opening up data that should have been open. We also did election information, etc).

Once PACER/et all turned them down, i'm pretty sure they made some deals but there really wasn't a good and complete source.

Worse, lots of states/etc had locked themselves into exclusive deals and so couldn't give us the data if they wanted to. (They were actually happy to be locked in, it turns out).

They do have some fairly good feeds from paid sources but ...

Anurag is very persistent, but even here, i think he's been focusing on other areas that are more useful to people.

[1] https://www.wired.com/2014/10/the-gentleman-who-made-scholar...


random question, have yall ever thought to separate the google scholar part from legal part. I know its a simple button click, but they are really different outputs. I use both, mainly the scholar part for finding prior art references in patent litigations, and the legal searches to find citations. I would also think it would help on the branding. either way, thanks for putting together a product that really helps.

Do you at least pull whatever is in RECAP?

Not sure if they do, but RECAP pushes data to the Internet Archive, so anyone can pull that PACER data back out.

https://blog.archive.org/2017/02/13/internet-archive-offers-...


its very important that this be handled by an independent party. Imagine if google was party to a lawsuit and could monitor what filings their legal opponents were looking at.

Independent in what sense? Is there any entity who couldn't be sued?

Also, I'd imagine (hope) Google wasn't _the_ source, but instead a better interface/search engine over the data.


i think you misunderstand some of the purposes monitoring a filing. the general purpose of monitoring a filing is to hopefully have a legal opinion that supports your argument. the whole purpose is to cite it so your opponent responds to it and the judge agrees with you. knowing what filings your legal opponents are looking at does not provide an advantage. the law is the law. your opponent is going to cite the case in a brief, and you will respond to their citation. despite what tv shows, there is no perry mason moment. trials are not about surprises, the main gist is set in stone. and you will piss off a judge if you start citing cases in oral arguments that are not in your brief. ive seen it happen.



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