Selected United States Court Opinions are Available on Govinfo

When researchers need opinions or orders from the United States Federal Courts, they look to the major case law databases as well as PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). One of the problems with PACER is that it charges users to retrieve materials if they incur costs above a threshold amount during a quarter. The current threshold is $15 in a quarter, although this will increase to $30 on January 1, 2020. Happily, some orders and opinions are accessible without incurring any charges by using the government information website govinfo.gov.

The collection on govinfo is a collaborative effort between the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC) intended to provide public access to opinions from selected U.S. appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts. The collection includes materials going back to April 2004. Some opinions from all of the Circuits are available. However, not all district courts are available. For instance, the Southern District of New York is not included; only the Eastern and Northern Districts have available opinions. Having the information available free on govinfo is an important step in making materials freely accessible to the public.

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