Federal courts consider putting cases on the Web

Federal courts consider putting cases on the Web

A committee of federal judges this month recommended that most federal court case files be available online to the same extent they are in courthouses, with some restrictions.
The committee said civil and bankruptcy case files should go online except for Social Security cases, which often involve disability claims and medical records.

Personal identifiers such as Social Security numbers, birth dates, financial account numbers and minors’ names should be removed or modified, the judges said.

They did not recommend posting criminal case files, citing safety and law enforcement risks. The committee suggested re-examining the policy in two years.

Dial-up access is already available for some cases through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records system, which carries a 7-cent-per-page fee; each court maintains its individual PACER database. Online files would also be available free at public terminals at courthouses.

The full Judicial Conference will consider the report at a Sept. 11 meeting. The proposal can be viewed at www.uscourts.gov/Press_Releases/att81501.pdf.

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