The Electronic Credit Department: Part 1
Public Access to Court Electronic Records Provides for
Immediate Information of Status of Problem Accounts
By Bradley D. Blakeley
The days of exorbitant courier service fees may soon
be gone. PACER, Public Access to Court Electronic Records, an electronic
public access service that allows users to obtain case and docket
information from Federal Appellate, District and Bankruptcy courts,
and from the U.S. Party/Case Index is quickly reducing the need for
courier services. PACER is a service of United States Judiciary and
is run by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.
Currently most Federal courts are available on the Internet. Other
courts, including the Bankruptcy Courts for the Central District
of California, must be dialed directly using communication software
such as pcAnywhere or Hyperterminal via modem. Access to State Court
records is not offered through PACER and the information, usually
very limited, is typically accessed through each particular County's
PACER services are available to any individual with
a personal computer and a modem. The PACER system permits you to
request information about a particular individual or case and offers
users electronic access to case dockets to retrieve information such
as a listing of all parties and their representatives in a particular
case including judge, attorneys, and trustees. Further, a compilation
of case related information such as cause of action and amount in
controversy are also available. Most importantly, the docket of the
case is nearly always available and, in many courts, the actual document,
imaged by the court, is available to be downloaded and saved. Other
important information, such as a claims register, is also available,
all within a few clicks of a mouse.
Currently 187 courts, consisting of 205 databases,
offer electronic public access services through the PACER Service
Center. The 187 courts consist of 9 appellate, 89 district, 89 bankruptcy
courts and the Court of Federal Claims. If you do not know the particular
case name or number, searches can be made using the U.S. Party/ Case
Index, which is a national index for U.S. district, bankruptcy, and
appellate courts. Pleadings related to each bankruptcy case are transferred
each night to U.S. Party/ Case Index. Once you determine the case
name or number, detailed information on the case may be found by
dialing into the PACER system for the particular jurisdiction where
the case is located.
Each federal court maintains its own databases with
case information. Because PACER database systems are maintained within
each court, each jurisdiction will have a different URL or modem
number. Consequently, the format of each court's information is slightly
different. Notwithstanding this, access is typically straightforward
with little instruction required.
Systems requirements are minimal. A personal computer
or terminal and, for dial-up PACER, just a 9600 or higher baud modem
and terminal emulation software that supports VT100 emulation. For
are all that is required. Parties are charged a fee of $.60 a minute
for dial-up service and an access fee of $.07 per page is assessed
for access to PACER service on the Internet. Transactions are managed
through matter numbers to ease accounting issues.
Electronic access is available by registering with
the PACER Service Center. To register, fill out one of the registration
forms available on the PACER website, http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov.
Alternatively, you may contact the PACER Service Center for a registration
form at (800) 676-6856. There is no cost for registering and once
the registration form is received by the PACER Service Center, you
will receive a login and password in the mail within a couple of
weeks. Oddly, logins and passwords cannot be faxed, emailed, or given
over the phone.
Next quarter, we will discuss the next stage in court
technological advances, the age of electronic court filing.
Service Center National Index (77K)
Reprinted by permission from Trade Vendor Quarterly Blakeley & Blakeley