Recently PACER announced significant changes regarding the unavailability of older docket filings in several courts. A post from the University of North Carolina Law Library blog succinctly lays out exactly what has happened to the information removed from PACER and provides guidance on where and at what cost the removed information can be secured. And the news is not good! Although the docket sheets themselves are not affected and will still be available, getting the courts filings is, and it will be much more cumbersome (users will have to contact the affected courts directly) and expensive (cost will include both a per case fee plus a per page photocopy fee) to get these filings, which seems outrageous to me as they would simply be providing the electronic copy they already have to the requester.
Unfortunately, it is a sad state of affairs that this trove of electronic filings is disappearing from PACER, but alas as we all know sometimes information technology becomes impediment technology. That appears to be the case here as the legacy systems for the filings affected are not compatible with the soon to be released next generation Case Management/Electronic Case Files System. Technology improvements thus impede access to information.
Who can or will step in to fill this void? A start-up company? A legal vendor such as HeinOnline? Hopefully someone will and sooner rather than later!