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Old February 24, 2015, 03:32 PM   #1
JimDandy
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PACER

Is there a primer on how Pacer works? There are two "Answers to Complaint" in a SAF suit I've been keeping an eye on, and to read them I apparently need a Pacer subscription. But the various pricing options, and footnotes about fees being waived if you incur less than $15 a quarter in charges have me a bit confused.

If I incur less than $15 a quarter, is that also refund my subscription charges? Or is that just the per-page charges?

Edit to add: One last question, when I buy a document on there, it gives me a link to "share" the document. Can and May I use that link to share here? Or os there some prohibition from PACER for that? i.e. is that for only internal workplace sharing or any sharing whatsoever?

Last edited by JimDandy; February 24, 2015 at 04:42 PM.
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Old February 24, 2015, 04:59 PM   #2
62coltnavy
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I don't remember how the fees work, all I know is that unless I do searches (and incur per page fees) it doesn't cost anything. Billing is quarterly and in arrears. I don't know about sharing either--I just download what I want, and from there I can send it to whomever I please.
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Old February 24, 2015, 08:16 PM   #3
wally626
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No expert , but there is no fee to get an account. You get charged per page viewed, mostly 10¢ per page with some limitations in terms of maximum per document. If you incur less than $15 in a quarter then you get billed $0. There is a service called RECAP that when installed will automatically copy any pages downloaded. If you are running RECAP then when you look at a court docket you will find many documents marked with a R which indicates by hitting the link you can download the document from the RECAP servers for free. Popular cases are usually filled with RECAPed files, less popular not so much. I have been using PACER lightly for about a year and have had no charges yet. Most all court documents are public domain, so the RECAP service is legal. You can also search RECAP directly, but I have much less luck doing that, normally I use PACER downloading the RECAP version if available.
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Old February 24, 2015, 09:18 PM   #4
tyme
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Yep, check the recap archive before you buy any documents.

https://www.recapthelaw.org/

If something's not there, and you buy it, use the browser extension to add it to that archive. That'll do far more good than only sharing it here.
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Old February 25, 2015, 10:06 AM   #5
Spats McGee
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The FAQ page for PACER is here: https://www.pacer.gov/psc/hfaq.html
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Old February 25, 2015, 10:09 AM   #6
JimDandy
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OK. and for that last question-

While I don't think copyright applies to these court documents because they're public record? I still haven't gotten a definitive answer on if there's any other prohibition on sharing the actual documents with the general public on a message board?

As the filings are to a case being discussed here, can I link the PDF directly, or does one have to paraphrase?
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Old February 25, 2015, 10:19 AM   #7
Spats McGee
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First of all, note also that there's a "Contact Us" button at the top of the FAQ page. I've rarely had to call PACER, but their staff has always been very helpful and courteous when I have.

As to copyright, I'm going to have to shoot from the hip here, but I don't think that copyright applies to government or public documents, so I think that directly linking the documents should be fine. If I'm wrong, you can always scream "Spats told me it was OK!"
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Old February 26, 2015, 05:57 PM   #8
Al Norris
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Lots of questions and I have the actual answers, as long time PACER and RECAP user. Let's start with RECAP, first.

As far as I know, RECAP is a Firefox add-on. Unless they have coded it for other browsers, it won't work with anything else. Understand, that my understanding is dated, as I loaded RECAP on my browser (Firefox), way back in 2008. Since it checks for and installs updates automatically, I'never had to really look at it again. Heck, There was one upgrade a couple of years ago that finally allowed us to RECAP the Circuit Courts of Appeal, and I didn't know about it, until I looked at a certain case (in appeals) and found that some filings, were in fact, RECAPped.

RECAP automatically turns itself on, whenever you are logged onto PACER. If you are searching for a case and the docket has been RECAPped, you will get a note from the add-on. From there, I have always looked at that docket to see the last end-date entry, before I actually trigger the docket search.

Getting a PACER subscription is easy and free. It only costs, when you actually do something with it. If you have noticed the way I linked all the cases I used to follow, you might see a method to how I searched for things.

I almost always have an entry for the Justia.com listed. That's because searching for a case within the federal system is free. Most often, Justia will have a link to the actual PACER docket page. That saves a fair amount of money, right there. What you will need to know is the case name (one of the parties to the case); the federal district court; and the approximate time the case was filed. That will allow Justia to present you with a list of probable court cases. From that list, select the one that fits. Somewhere or another, bookmark the page that Justia sends you to. Because you will want to use that page often, if you plan on following that particular case. As I said, one of the links from Justia, is a portal into that particular PACER page that has the docket.

Now, PACER will charge you whatever the particular Federal District is set to follow (the CCA - Circuit Court of Appeals). In many cases, it is still 10 cents a page. But a couple of years ago, the Supreme Court allowed the Circuits to charge as much as 15 cents a page, and some of them do... Up to a maximum of 30 pages. There are some exceptions to this, so make sure you read the PACER Freqently Asked Questions info. One exception that is important to note, is that Court decisions are free. They do not cost.

As noted, PACER bills you on a quarterly basis. If your account is less than $15 per quarter, then you will get a notice that your bank/card will be billed for $0.00. This just means that you won't get charged.

Also note, that if you are following lots of cases (as I was), your charges can get expensive for an ordinary person. At the height of my (former) usage, I was spending several hundred dollars each and every quarter.

Another thing to understand, if any filings are deemed sensitive, the Court may redact or even withhold those filings from public view. Don't get too upset over this. It happens.

These records (case filings) are public filings, and are not copyrighted in any form. Once you have a case file, you can share it with anyone. And that is the biggest single reason to use RECAP. It sets up a specific folder to hold all the documents for that case, on the Internet Archives. It is there that anyone with the link can download and/or view the case(s). You don't have to use your own Hard Drive to store these files (unless you want them for whatever reasons). They are now freely available (in the cloud) to anyone who has the link.

I hope this little primer helps you, JimDandy.
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Old February 27, 2015, 10:32 AM   #9
zukiphile
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Norris
Getting a PACER subscription is easy and free. It only costs, when you actually do something with it. If you have noticed the way I linked all the cases I used to follow, you might see a method to how I searched for things.
I would only add that my IT person says that if the periodic charge (quarterly? monthly?) for my account is under $10, they will not actually charge me.
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