Documents Political Web

Eclectically yours #1

Once Google Reader bit the dust I made my move to Feedly, and I’m quite happy with the change. I especially like the search feature incorporated in the Pro version of Feedly. Since I follow several court cases, and the only “notification” the federal PACER system provides is an RSS feed of every court docket entry, being able to search on key terms ensures I don’t miss a filing.

Speaking of Feedly…

Food Safety News reports that a coalition of consumer groups interested in food safety are gunning for two amendments to the House Farm Bill. The one I’m most interested in is the infamous Steve King amendment titled the “Protect Interstate Commerce Act”. This amendment would start a race for the bottom when it comes to animal welfare laws, food quality, and food safety laws. The King amendment would basically allow one state’s agricultural law to override another, more restrictive law. In other words, King wants to force Iowa’s crappy agricultural laws on to the rest of the country.

It’s one of the worst amendments attached to any bill in more modern times, from a man who is infamous for bad legislation focused on supporting his big agribusiness contributors and little else. What’s surprising is how many Tea Party Congressional members voted for the amendment, as these supposedly “states rights” types are voting for a bill that undermines states rights.

Remember pink slime? There’s a hearing in December related to a motion to dismiss by ABC News and the other defendants. The story contains a link to a copy of the motion to dismiss, but I couldn’t find one for the memorandum, which is the interesting part. However, I’m assuming it’s similar (if not identical) to the one filed with a similar motion in the federal court. Food Liability Law Blog provided a copy of this document. BPI’s response at the time was to refer to its memorandum in support of its motion to remand back to the South Dakota state court.

The pink slime case started in South Dakota, moved to the federal court system, and then back to the state court. I hate it when a court case gets moved back to a state court, because most states don’t have an easily accessible document system. PACER is pricey, but at least you can easily access most documents.

Speaking of documents, California’s effort to get a case management system online has failed, and now the tech companies are circling, like vultures over a particularly juicy carcass, over new contracts to build a system.

They are scrambling for a mother lode of multimillion-dollar contracts for software and licensing, vast additional sums for upkeep, and the right to set up a toll booth on Court Road for 38 million people.

I’m all for private contracting of court systems, though I think the states would do better to share expertise with each other when it comes to implementation. My biggest concern, though, is system privatization: hiring companies to run the systems, as well as develop them.

Privatization of court systems is, in my opinion, wrong, wrong, wrong. Not only does privatization add to the expense of an already outrageously expensive legal system, they inhibit easy access to the documents. Instead of paying a fee such as ten cents a document page, like you do with PACER, it may cost you several dollars to access even the smallest document.

Still, some court document access is better than nothing, which is what you have with most state courts.

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