PACER users looking for 4th Circuit cases don’t need to worry about losing court records, according to Patricia S. Connor, Clerk of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“We are not affected,” Connor said, by the data conversion process that has surprised lawyers with the prospect of losing access to older records
The problem being reported for some federal courts of appeals, including the 2nd, 7th, 11th and Federal Circuits, stems from some courts not having converted data at the time they implemented electronic case filing under the existing Case Management/Electronic Case Files system, according to a statement on the PACER website.
Changes have been made to the PACER system in preparation for a move to NextGen CM/ECF. As a result of the system’s “architectural changes,” the local legacy case management systems of the four identified appellate courts are now incompatible with PACER, and the system will no longer provide electronic access to the closed cases on those systems.
Archived dockets and documents in the older cases for the affected courts will have to be obtained directly from the relevant court, but open cases and new filings will continue to be available on PACER.
Fortunately, the 4th Circuit had the funds and the foresight to make the necessary conversion when it switched to electronic case filing in 2007.
The court began its electronic record system in 1986 with the Appellate Information Management System, and brought those records over when it switched from AIMS to the current EM/ECF system, according to Connor.