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Collins introduces bill to increase transparency and access to federal court documents

Sep 6, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) today introduced a bill to reform both parts of the federal courts’ electronic records system.

“Americans deserve a justice system that is transparent and accessible. I introduced the Electronic Court Records Reform Act to modernize the judicial records systems and remove fee-for-access barriers that technology has rendered unnecessary,” said Collins.

“As an attorney and the son of a law enforcement officer, I understand how crucial it is that this legislation ensures access to a freer, fairer and more accountable judiciary.”

H.R. 6714, the Electronic Court Records Reform Act, would guarantee free public access to federal court records through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system, which currently charges the public a fee to access documents. The bill would also require updates to the PACER system, including adding a function to enable all users to search its catalog of court documents easily. Currently, litigants are handicapped because they cannot conduct research through the system.

The bill would further support legal professionals and the general public by consolidating the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system. The CM/ECF system was designed to increase efficiency for all stakeholders within the judicial system, but it is compartmentalized among different courts. This makes locating records and filing documents difficult and inefficient. The Electronic Court Records Reform Act would unify these disconnected systems under the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in order to ensure uniform access to all federal litigants.