Federal courts will post most civil case files

Federal courts will post most civil case files

The Judicial Conference of the U.S. Courts approved a proposal to put case files online. The conference, a 27-judge panel that sets policy for federal courts, said that most civil-case documents should be available online to the same extent they are at the courthouse.

Personal identifiers such as Social Security numbers and financial account numbers would be removed or altered in online documents. Social Security cases, which often include disability claims and medical records, would not be available online.

Criminal case files also would not be available online, although this policy will be re-examined within two years.

Online access is already available on the fee-based PACERNet, which would not be affected by the new policy.

The judges barred 'inappropriate personal use' of court computers by court employees. The policy includes materials that are sexually explicit or involve illegal activities. The conference also barred the use of Gnutella, Napster and similar software.

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