Sacramento court ends practice of charging for access to some online documents

Sacramento Superior Court officials announced Wednesday that the court will no longer charge for accessing and copying civil case records through its online database, changing a policy that was first put into place in 2014.

“The Court intends to better serve the public by eliminating these fees and making it easier to access electronic court records,” Presiding Judge Michael G. Bowman said in an announcement.

The move means people wanting to access documents in civil and probate cases no longer will be subject to per-page fees, which previously charged $1 per page for the first five pages and 40 cents for additional pages up to a $40 maximum.

The move brings Sacramento’s court into line with some other jurisdictions that do not charge for public access to civil court documents, including Placer Superior Court.

Various other courts throughout the state charge for access to certain documents or do not provide any access to documents without physically coming to the courthouse.

Federal courts use the PACER system and charge 10 cents per page up to a $3 maximum per document.

Sacramento’s court will still charge fees for searches made at the courthouse that take longer than 10 minutes and for hard copies of documents purchased there.

The move does not affect access to criminal case files in Sacramento, where the amount of online information about suspects’ criminal histories and pending charges has been reduced dramatically.

Criminal case documents are not available online in Sacramento courts or many others, although such documents are available in the federal courts.