PACER is Public Access to Court Electronic Records

12 Aug PACER is Public Access to Court Electronic Records

Case files in more than 200 Federal Courts, including Bankruptcy Courts, are available over the web for a fee from any personal computer. The Oregon Bankruptcy court is participating in this program. PACER, the acronym for Public Access to Court Electronic Records, is the system the courts use to provide this access and it is available to everyone.

Congress has given the Federal Courts authority to charge fees for access to electronic case information. PACER charges eight cents per page up to a maximum of 30 pages per document. However, the fee is waived under certain circumstances. Courts may waive fees for educational researchers, bankruptcy case trustees, courts, nonprofit organizations, and people using the courts who are unable to pay.

In order to use the PACER system, it is necessary to have access to a computer with internet access and a javascript enabled web browser. A user must register with PACER Service Center and obtain a username and password. Unless exempt from fees, a user must provide a billing address or credit card information. There is no registration fee for a PACER account but same day registration requires an approved credit card to guarantee payment for document access charges.

Pacer provides the following information to anyone with a computer and internet access.

  • A listing of all parties and participants including judges, attorneys, and trustees
  • A compilation of case related information such as cause of action, nature of suit, and dollar demand
  • A chronology of dates of case events entered in the case record
  • A claims registry
  • A listing of new cases each day
  • Appellate court opinions
  • Judgments or case status
  • Types of documents filed for certain cases
  • Imaged copies of documents

The information is available system-wide and includes a US Party Index listing every case that has been filed in each participating court since they joined the CM/ECF system. It is available seven days a week and 24 hours a day. Registered users can access court files on weekends, evenings, and holidays.

The advent of electronic court files has brought access to information to a new level. This freedom of access has required new rules about personal information that can be included in court documents. Court privacy rules require that certain personal identification information be removed from documents filed with the court. The prohibited information includes individuals’ Social Security and taxpayer identification numbers, the names of minor children, financial account numbers, dates of birth, and, in criminal cases, home addresses.

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I was admitted to practice in 1978. I am certified as a Consumer Bankruptcy Specialist by the American Board of Certification. I regularly speak on tax and bankruptcy issues at state, regional and national conferences. Years of experience in practice before the Internal Revenue Service and Oregon Department of Revenue have given me the background to resolve a large variety of consumer tax issues.
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