Overpaying for PACER?
March 09, 2009
Joe Lieberman thinks that PACER is overpriced? WTF?
No way. Eight cents a page is a steal. When drafting a complaint in a new area of law, I can grab a complaint off of PACER to read for a few bucks. How much time and money does that save me and clients? Oddly, Lieberman is upset that a government agency is actually making money! Astounding:
The senator, who is head of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, expressed concern in a Feb. 27 letter that the federal judiciary had a $150 million surplus in its technology fund as of fiscal year 2006 yet continues to charge the public and lawyers 8 cents per page for access to documents.
Isn't it a good thing that the government is making a profit? Maybe that profit should cover overhead, thus saving taxpayers money. If he proposes that staff salary come from PACER revenue, then I support his "reforms." I doubt that's what he's going for.
Let's be real. PACER is not something that the "general public" uses. It's not a public good. People who use PACER are generally using it for a business purpose. They either work for clients for a fee. Or it's a pro se litigant who is suing someone else - in other words, it's someone looking to make money from a lawsuit.
Why should taxpayers be required to foot the bill for a service that businesspeople use for a business purpose?
In some instances, the law should be free. If the people are required to know the law, then statutes and case laws should be made available. Yet PACER isn't a collection of statutes and case law. It is, for the most part, attorney work product. It's a collection of briefs and other documents.
Incidentally, someone paid a lawyer a lot of money to draft those documents. Some documents cost hundreds or thousands of dollars per page. It takes a lot of time and effort to produce a page. And people are complaining about paying less than a dime?
I suspect that Lieberman, like most politicians, doesn't understand what PACER is, or what its used for. His ignorance, however, won't stop him from demanding "reform."
PACER is one of the few government services worth a damn. Hey, Lieberman, leave PACER alone.