San Franciscans: Please Join Carl Malamud’s Campaign To Help Free Up Court Documents

For many years, we’ve discussed various Carl Malamud projects to help make government information and documents more widely available (especially ones that are locked up for no good reason). One particular target of his is PACER, the court’s electronic document system that is ridiculously cumbersome to use and costs an insane amount to use for even pretty mundane tasks. Earlier this year, we wrote about his National Day of PACER Protest, designed to be held on May 1st (this Friday). At the time, we suggested everyone sign up for a new PACER account (because, as if to demonstrate how stupid the PACER system is, you have to wait for the system to snail mail you your username and password before you can start using your account) to download a few documents on May 1st (PACER waives your fees if you download less than $15 in fees per quarter).

However, as we noted, this was just part of a three-pronged approach to convincing the courts to free up the PACER system. Another part was reaching out to judges to exempt certain courts and certain documents from PACER’s charges. As part of that, Malamud is trying to send judges some beautiful postcards, and he’s asking for people to help him do so. Here are just two of the postcards: If you’re in San Francisco this Friday, May 1st, please try to make your way to the Internet Archive’s headquarters at 300 Funston Avenue, where you can send a post card (or two, or six, or 60) to Chief Judge Sideny Thomas of the Ninth Circuit appeals court, asking him to free up access to PACER for several of the courts in the 9th circuit.

I am writing to you for help. If you are in San Francisco on Friday, May 1, from 8 AM to 5 PM, I’m hoping you can stop by the Internet Archive at 300 Funston Avenue.

May 1 is Law Day, and I’m asking people to come in and write a brief postcard about why you think that access to PACER is important. More specifically, you’ll be writing a postcard to Chief Judge Thomas of the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in support of my request that the Court grant us free access to PACER for several courts in the Ninth Circuit. It would be a really big deal if the Court said yes, we’re trying to show public support in a way the judges can relate to.

You can also go and send your postcard directly if you can’t make it to the Internet Archive:

Clerk of the Court

Attn: Docket 15-80056

United States Courts of Appeals

James Browning Courthouse

95 7th Street

San Francisco, CA 94103

This is a worthwhile and fun project. If you’re in San Francisco, please try to stop by. If you’re not, please consider sending your own postcard.

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