Circuit Court Ruling on PACER Fees
Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision, D.I., 31, National Veterans Legal Services Program v. United States, No. 19-1081 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 6, 2020), upholding a district court ruling that while PACER access fees could be charged under 28 U.S.C. § 1913 which provides for “access to information available through automatic data processing equipment.", the statute should be read narrowly as only authorizing fees for the actual cost of the service.
The Court decided that PACER fees could not be used to cover the cost of most courtroom technology (such as the E-Juror service which provides copies of documents to jurors). "Courtroom Technology funds largely go toward improving the courtroom experience—providing electronic presentations of evidence on flat-screen TVs, for instance—in ways unrelated to providing access to electronic information." Id. at *30-31. However, the cost of digital audio equipment used for recordings of trials and other proceedings can be taken into account for PACER fees.