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Should the public pay a dime for access to court records?

Washington Post – “The federal judiciary charges 10 cents per page to pull up court files from its online record repository. The fees can add up quickly, and users must consider whether each click to view a public record is worth the cost. But a lawsuit in court Monday in Washington challenges the government’s paywall to search online for case documents through the service known as PACER, an acronym for Public Access to Court Electronic Records. “The best policy is to make PACER free,” a group of retired federal judges told the court. Judicial records should be “as widely available as possible” and “wealth should not control access to justice,” according to a brief from the former judges, including Richard A. Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit and Nancy Gertner of the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. Court proceedings are open to the public, and case records can be reviewed free of charge in courthouse clerks’ offices during business hours. But downloading more than a handful of electronic records from your desk comes at a cost…In contrast, the Supreme Court’s website makes filings accessible free of charge — and without registration or a credit card, as PACER requires…”

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