Search that parallels PACER
The Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), which was designed to facilitate and improve electronic public access to court information on a Federal level, is sparking similar innovations in Texas with the recently unveiled re:Search TX platform. While it is not yet available to the public or many attorneys in Texas, the database will allow access to civil case records in all 254 Texas counties for attorneys of record on that specific case. Access is currently limited to clerks, state and county judges, as well as a handful of attorneys.
Of course, in this day and age, the scrutiny over data security has many people’s guard up, as it should! We’ve all seen how personal information in the wrong hands can be leveraged in a variety of ways from ransomware to political meddling. So it is no wonder that the digital warehousing of such sensitive information is high on the list of concerns for those who trust paper files over all.
Not surprisingly, there is some opposition to the online database as it would shift a portion of annual revenues to the technology vendor while leaving the clerks to maintain and protect the files with fewer resources to do so.
Considering our offices have all gone paperless, we can certainly appreciate the upside potential in streamlining access to such records, once any potential bugs are worked out. And while we are thankful for the work each district and county clerk has performed over the years, it is hard to ignore the benefits that come with digital organization of records. Remember when e-filing was first introduced and attorneys either loved or hated the idea? Perhaps re: Search TX is another example of this where we will face some kinks along the way, but in the end our system will evolve with the technological times.