Judicial Conference Endorses Making PACER Searching Free to All Non-commercial Users

Free federal court records are now one step closer:  The federal judiciary’s policymaking body has endorsed a proposal to make federal court records searches via the PACER electronic database free to non-commercial users.  According to a newly released report, the Judicial Conference of the United States has endorsed “making all searches free of charge for all non-commercial users of any future new modernized case management, electronic filing, and public access systems implemented by the judiciary.”

According to Reuters and Bloomberg Law, work on building a new case management and electronic filing system with modern technology is already underway. How long that will take is unclear.

The recommendation comes as Congress considers legislation that would require the courts to make PACER access free to the general public online.
The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the Open Courts Act (S. 2614H.R. 5844). The House has yet to take action on the bill this Congress, but the chamber easily passed the legislation in 2020.