Covering Business Credit Logo Home   About Us   Services   Credit Articles   Q&A   Contact  

  Business Credit Articles  

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 website.

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 Internet PACER, Internet access and a Javascript enabled web browser 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, 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.

PACER Service Center National Index (77K)

Reprinted by permission from Trade Vendor Quarterly Blakeley & Blakeley LLP
Summer 01

Share |

Business Credit Articles
Send to a Friend
Ask A Credit Question
Questions & Answers
Business Credit News
Your Privacy
Site Map