Federal Court Documents Through Recap

Recap has here a searchable federal court document database.

As best I understand it, Recap clones from the Pacer.gov site that permits access to the dockets of all federal cases and permits download of all documents (except in rare cases of sealing).  The first Pacer user who downloads the document while the Recap extension is in the browser automatically causes the document to be sent to Recap -- one description is that the Pacer user "donates" the copy to Recap.  The recap system then automatically puts the document in the Recap database.  Thereafter, Recap users can access the documents from the Recap database here (no fees) or, if going through Pacer, the availability of the document in Recap will show up on the Pacer docket entries (again assuming the browser has the Recap extension) and will permit downloading of a document from Recap without having to view and download it from Pacer, thereby avoiding the Pacer fees.

This appears to be a very useful tool.  The only problem I see is that, if no one with the Recap browser extension has accessed the document from Pacer, you will have to get it from Pacer and pay the resulting Pacer fees.  Provided you have the Recap browser extension, the document will automatically be "donated" to Recap and then available to others through Recap without the Pacer fees.

At least that is how I think it works.  Otherwise, I don't know how it works, and it is just magic.

I discovered this tool from the following article:  Eugene Volokh, Massive new searchable database of federal court opinions, including ones that haven’t been formally published (WAPO Volokh Conspiracy 8/15/17), here.

1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately, the Free Law Project has decided to charge other organizations money to access RECAP documents, and it now denies access to organizations which refuse to pay. The new version of the RECAP plug-in only uploads documents to the FLP's own CourtListener site, while other sites, such as PlainSite and the United States Courts Archive, are no longer being updated. This decision was made in secret with no public discussion, and it was made despite the FLP's stated position that court documents should be free and freely available to everyone. For more information, please see https://www.plainsite.org/articles/20171130/why-plainsite-no-longer-supports-the-recap-initiative/


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