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Rep. Johnson’s Bipartisan Bill Making Federal Court Records Free to Public Passes House

“Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04), chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, today announced The Open Courts Act of 2020, H.R. 8235, which would modernize the federal judiciary’s court records systems and eliminate the paywall (called PACER) that currently forces the public to pay more than $140 million each year to access these records, passed the House. The new system will provide a centralized, easily searchable site to access court records free of charge. Rep. Doug Collins (GA-09) co-introduced the bill, which was marked up and passed out of Judiciary Committee in September. A section-by-section analysis of the bill as amended can be found HERE. To read H.R. 8235 as amended on the floor, click HERE. Rep. Johnson’s floor speech managing H.R. 8235 HERE.

The Open Courts Act would:

  • Create a cost-effective, modernized court records system for the federal judiciary.
  • Make court records freely available to the public; eliminate the pay wall currently established by PACER.
  • Ensure that the public can easily search for and access court records.
  • Provide funding for the new system without requiring new appropriations.”
  • See also Free PACER advocates say $2B estimate for new online system is not accurate

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