The federally run online court document access system known as PACER now finds itself listed on a federal docket.
Its overseer, the US government, is a defendant in a proposed class-action lawsuit accusing the service of overcharging the public.
The suit, brought by three nonprofits on Thursday, claims millions of dollars generated from a recent 25-percent increase in page fees are being illegally spent by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AO).

The cost for access is 10 cents per page and up to $3 a document. Judicial opinions are free.

This isn’t likely to break the bank for some, but to others it adds up and can preclude access to public records.

The National Consumer Law Center, the Alliance for Justice, and the National Veterans Legal Services Program also claim in the lawsuit that these fees are illegal because the government is charging more than necessary to keep the PACER system afloat (as is required by Congress).
The groups cite the E-Government Act of 2002, which authorizes PACER fees necessary “to reimburse expenses in providing these services.” The suit says that millions of dollars in PACER online access fees have been diverted to other courthouse projects instead.

The system was once a dial-in phone service and became an Internet portal in 1998.

Fees began at 7 cents per page, rose to 8 cents, and now sit at 10 cents.
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