If you are a PACER user, I strongly encourage you to download RECAP.
Since [RECAP] launched in August, legal circles have been buzzing with support for the idea.
A sleek little add-on to the popular Firefox Internet browser” with a stylish and subversive touch.
A sort of digital Kumbaya.
Citizens deserve open and easy access to all public court documents. Until public access becomes a matter of policy rather than blocked by PACER’s artificial pay wall, independent efforts like RECAP continue to fill a critical gap in our ability to foster a more participatory and engaged democracy.
RECAP makes critical legal information more available at lower cost — a private innovation on public data that will help deliver on a cherished promise: government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Government records, including court records, belong to the public. By lowering the barriers that have made it difficult for citizens and non-profit investigative Centers to access these records, RECAP is making a valuable contribution to greater transparency and accountability, and therefore to Democracy.
As part of a trend toward opening access to American common law, RECAP’s place at the heart or the periphery of the movement remains to be seen. Like any crowdsourcing application, RECAP’s usefulness increases as more people use it. Yet PACER’s prime users are large, bill-paying law firms, which tend to be wary about adopting new technology and have little incentive to contribute documents they paid for to a free database.“Success” for RECAP may not be mainstream adoption, however. Merely by creating the working plugin and calling attention to the problem of restricted access to court documents, CITP has advanced the cause of reforming and opening up access to PACER. That alone is “Turning PACER around.”