Yesterday, Representatives Doug Collins (R-GA) and Mike Quigley (D-IL) introduced the “Electronic Court Records Reform Act” (ECRRA) to remove any and all paywalls on public court records. Currently, users must pay to obtain public court records through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. The ECRRA would guarantee free public access to these records through PACER by waiving all fees. Furthermore, the bill would also mandate updates to the PACER system, including a search function for court documents.
The following can be attributed to Meredith Rose, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“Meaningful civic engagement requires that everyone — not just law firms and individuals with means — have access to public records. Court records should be freely available to the public, including journalists, researchers, activists, and ordinary citizens. ECRRA would remove a substantial hurdle by making meaningful electronic access possible, and we applaud Rep. Collins and Rep. Quigley for their leadership on this issue.”