Headlines last week were touting the ruling on PACER fees issued Thursday by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. The judiciary “can’t use PACER as IT slush fund,” said one. “PACER Fees Are Too High, Federal Circuit Says,” reported another. “Federal judiciary is overcharging for access to public records online,” said still another.
But if anyone thinks the ruling is a clear victory for public access and will significantly reduce PACER fees, think again. The fact of the matter is that the ruling allows the judiciary to continue charging fees for PACER use and is likely to reduce those fees only by a small amount, if at all.
And nothing about the ruling changes the fact that PACER is a cumbersome and crotchety 32-year-old system that badly needs replacing.
In my column this week at Above the Law, I go into more detail on the ruling and its likely impact: Why the Federal Circuit’s PACER Ruling Is A Mixed Bag.