The long-planned, and eagerly awaited, electronic publication of the filings in Supreme Court cases by the Court will arrive on November 13, the Court announced Thursday in a press release. For the first time, the Court itself will make the petitions and briefs available online, and without cost to the public.
The Court has never been a part of the federal courts’ PACER system, in which the public can download lower court filings, but at a cost of ten cents per page.
The Court’s staff has been working on the new system for years; the task was complicated by security concerns, including developing ways to prevent alteration of the filed documents.
The system of “pauper” filings — that is, petitions by persons too poor to pay the filing fee (most often, prison inmates seeking to challenge their convictions or sentences) — will be continued. Those filings will continue to be sent to the Court in paper form, but they will then be scanned and placed on the Court’s website.
The “paid” cases will, for a time, continue to be filed in paper format, but cases in which a lawyer is representing the client will also have to be filed in electronic format for posting on the website.
The Court for some time has included on its website the written transcripts and audio recordings of its public hearings. The transcripts are made available on a same-day basis, only slightly delayed. The audio is made available at the end of the week in which the hearings were held.
The Court’s opinions and orders are posted on the website when issued publicly.
UPDATE: The Court has posted a document explaining the new system more fully. It is available here.)