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Federal Courts Announce Higher Pacer Fees, Policy to Discourage Sealing Civil Suits

Posted Sep 14, 2011 11:45 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The cost of Pacer documents will increase two cents a page under a new policy adopted by the Judicial Conference of the United States.

The new fee is 10 cents a page, according to a press release, the Politico blog Under the Radar and The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times. The federal court’s online document system is called Pacer for Public Access to Court Electronic Records.

The increase won't take effect for at least six months. Local, state, and federal government agencies will get a reprieve—a three-year exemption from the increase. Also, users who incur less than $15 in charges in any quarterly cycle won’t be charged a fee. Currently, users who incur charges of less than $10 in a quarter don’t have to pay.

The fee increase was announced along with a new policy that encourages federal courts to limit those instances in which they seal entire civil case files. Cases should be sealed only when required by statute or rule, or when justified by a showing of extraordinary circumstances and an absence of feasible alternatives, according to the policy.

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