Last week Texas Lawyer reported that by the end of 2018 Texas will make its state court records and documents system re:searchTX available to the general public— similar to the way the federal government does it through Pacer.
The re:searchTX system actually launched in February 2017 with limited access for judges court clerks and attorneys of record. The system has provided access to documents in their own cases. The Texas Supreme Court is now expanding Open access two attorneys or other registered users. The news story seems to indicate that anyone including researchers can get access by registering.
The article quotes David Slaton the administrative director of the Texas office of court of dministration who indicated that The system will be live before the end of 2018.
The order implementing the change states that “by making court documents more readily available to the public, re:searchTX provides greater transparency for the justice system that is critical to evaluating it’s operations, improving it’s procedures, and strengthening public trust. ” According to the statement expansion of re:searchTX also involves many difficult issues including appropriate protections for legitimate privacy interests and funding. Records will have a watermark indicating that they are a copy from RES: searchTX.
Since law librarians are clamoring for commercial vendors to expand their access to state law dockets it is not immediately clear whether this will be possible in Texas. The order states that there will be safeguards to ensure that users don’t excessively download documents for data mining or selling records without permission some sensitive documents will not be available and sensitive data will be redacted. There was no indication of how or whether commercial information vendors will get access to the data and documents in order to ingest them into analytics products. There is a huge demand for state docket analytics, I hope the committee is prepared for the onslaught of requests for their data.
The recommendations of the Judicial Committee on Information Technology is available here.
The Order recommending the adoption of recommendations of committee can be found here.
Documents will be available to the general public at a cost of 10 since page up to six dollars maximum per document