Chapter

THE FUTURE OF COURT SYSTEM TRANSPARENCY

Lynn M. LoPucki

in Confidentiality, Transparency, and the U.S. Civil Justice System

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199914333
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199980185 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199914333.003.0009
THE FUTURE OF COURT SYSTEM TRANSPARENCY

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This chapter argues that existing technology is capable of rendering the court system almost completely transparent at nominal cost. “Transparent” means that the public would have online access not only to the documents in court files, but also to the answers to millions of the most important questions regarding the system's performance. The chapter summarizes a larger project in which the author sought to project the consequences of elimination of the two most important remaining barriers to federal court system transparency: the current charge of eight cents per page for obtaining court documents through PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) and the need for human intervention to extract data from the PDF forms posted on PACER. It begins by describing the technological challenge of converting PACER data into useful views of the court system. It then turns to the substantial benefits that would flow from providing those views. Lastly, it lists and responds to the objections that have been, and will be, made to the federal courts' efforts to render their operations transparent.

Keywords: technology; court system; transparency; online access; public access to court electronic records; pacer; court documents

Chapter.  7772 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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