COURTWEB AND WRITTEN OPINIONS
Last updated: 09/14/10

The court is pleased to announce that, effective May 17, 2010, written opinions were made available at no cost via CourtWeb: http://courtweb.pamd.uscourts.gov/courtweb/

 

FAQs regarding appearance:
 

  1. What is CourtWEB?

  2. What constitutes a written opinion?

  3. Weren't written opinions already available at no cost?

  4. Are all written opinions available through CourtWEB?

  5. Will older written opinions be made available through CourtWEB?

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AP01

What is CourtWEB?

CourtWEB is a website hosted by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, which offers free access to orders designated as "written opinions," without requiring a Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) account.

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AP02

What constitutes a written opinion?

For the purposes of the E-Government Act of 2002, the official guidance of the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States is that "written opinion" is defined as, "any document issued by a judge or judges of the court, sitting in that capacity, that sets forth a reasoned explanation for a courtís decision." This definition was clarified by the Committee as follows:

  1. The responsibility for determining which documents meet this definition rests with the authoring judge, and the determination should be made at the time the document is filed;
  2. The decision as to whether a document meets this definition is not the same as the decision about whether an opinion is to be published;
  3. The definition is expressly intended to cover reports and recommendations issued by magistrate judges at such time as any action is taken by a district judge on a report and recommendations issued by a magistrate judge, and also includes a summary order adopting such report and recommendations;
  4. The definition is not intended to include routine, non-substantive orders such as scheduling orders or rulings on motions for extension of time; and
  5. In the courts of appeals, only those documents designated as opinions of the court meet the definition of "written opinion."
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AP03

Weren't written opinions already available at no cost?

Yes, but they were kept in the PACER system, which requires registration and, for expedited enrollment, a major credit card, although there is no cost to access opinions. (For more information about PACER visit: http://www.pacer.gov/reg_pacer.html .) CourtWEB does not require registration.

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AP04

Are all written opinions available through CourtWEB?

The district began transmitting written opinions to CourtWEB on May 17, 2010. All written opinions transmitted to CourtWeb on or after that date are available.

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AP05

Will older written opinions be made available through CourtWEB?

Although the district will explore possible methods to provide access to older written opinions sometime in the future, we have no specific plan now to make them available via CourtWEB. Please note that all written opinions (older and current) will continue to be available via PACER.

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