PACER’s Stylin’: No More 80s Purple

By , May 18, 2010 3:53 pm

by Kristine Lloyd

It’s been a long time coming, renovations to the look and feel of PACER. Didn’t we all love the pastel color schemes, like an Easter egg surprise every time you clicked on a court’s homepage? Well, thankfully, all the spirit and personality of the individual court homepages are still there, but the PACER landing page and the US Party / Case Index, now called the PACER Case Locator, have been updated to a chicer, more mod look. Even the url is now pacer.gov: simple as a little black dress.

The PACER Case Locator:

No one besides a librarian gets too excited about an Index, so the name change was a good decision. The tabs across the top are handy and alleviate clicking through multiple screens to get to a page where you can actually do something. Get out your “Marion the Librarian” reading glasses though, because the font has gone from Large Print Books to micro-fiche sized. Here are a few pros and cons about the new PACER Case Locator:

Pro: Clearly, the re-design team realized, now that there are more than 15 cases on PACER, how helpful it would be to limit the massive results you retrieve when looking for commonly sued parties. Now you can filter your search results by court, date, nature of suit and a couple of other options.
Con: You can’t search for multiple NOSs’ at once, nor can you filter by NOS when you’re in the All Courts tab.

Pro: The hover-craft option! Though it would be awesome to be able to search by both party names, and it looks like you have that option, you do not. It is a mirage. But, when you hover over the docket number, you do get the case name. How cool is that?
Con: That you cannot search by both party names

Pro: You can reorganize the order of the column contents. You no longer have to endure the haphazard date-filed listings.
Con: You’ll still retrieve dual listings of some cases, so your case count will be off.

Pro: You have the option to download the results page.
Con: Why? Why? Someone tell me why I would want to do this? Plus, the downloaded file looks like it’s in Sanskrit.

Miscellany:

  • Finally, you have the ability search and access MDL litigation. No more pulling hair out of one’s head to circuitously locate your favorite MDL.
  • Finding your way back to the homepage requires patience. If you click on the PACER icon in the top left, it will take you back to the PACER Case Locator page, but there is no friendly hovering hand to show you the way (never mind about how you’re supposed to get back to the pacer.gov homepage–I’ll guess you’ll just have to type it in). Most users, like me, will probably just hit the back button until they get a finger cramp.

So, now that PACER has on its party dress, it just needs a little something to make it really stand out. It’s certainly an improvement over the outdated former site, but it could do even better, taking more cues from some of the docket database vendors. But, I guess for government-issue, pennies per page, it’s still a real steal, even if it’s not the belle of the ball.

2 Responses to “PACER’s Stylin’: No More 80s Purple”

  1. Beth Morey says:

    Nice review Kristine!
    I had thought I could use the filter option to add a second party name, but no, it doesn’t work. I contacted PACER to see if they could tell me why. I didn’t get an answer as to why it doesn’t work in filgr, but they did give me a tip on an alternative method. If you choose the advenaced search option, and in the Case Title field search plaintiffname*defendantname it brings up the case. If you’re not sure who’s the plaintiff and who’s the defendant, you can put one name in the case title field and one in the party name field. Not exactly elegant, but it’s possible to deceive it into giving you what you need.

  2. Erin Hoffrance says:

    Love this: “Even the url is now pacer.gov: simple as a little black dress.”
    Great review, I really like the new look and feel, quite updated and quite needed, I say!

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