How to follow federal court documents
To the Editor;
Any member of the public wishing to follow official documents pertaining to the criminal trial against Roger J. Stone, Jr. brought by the U.S. Department of Justice — or any case filed in federal courts — may do so through the court’s electronic filing system. Observers simply create an account through something called the PACER Case Locator (pcl.uscourts.gov), provide credit card information, and pay for search results and document downloads. Click “New Search” at the top of the screen and search by case or party with basic or advanced fields.
Searches can be nationwide or by going to the particular court in question, which in this case is the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia (dcd.uscourts.gov). Stone’s case number is 1:2019cr00018. If usage does not exceed $15 every three months, fees are waived, according to the website. Documents are in Adobe PDF format. A copy of Stone’s arrest warrant, which costs 10 cents, lists the particular section of the United States Code violations he faces (all Title 18): Section 1505 Obstruction of Official Proceeding, Section 1001 False Statements, Section 1512(b)(1) Witness Tampering, and Section 2 Causing an Act to be Done. Cornell Law School maintains a website (law.cornell.edu) containing the full language of each Code title and section.
What could be impulsively dismissed as mind-numbing, tedious and unentertaining is, on closer examination, where the rubber meets the road of an elegant system of self-governance as it applies to the rules we live by and whether and how to enforce them. Media outlets and personalities and their conflicts over informing and shaping public opinion is certainly attention grabbing and occasionally even sober and useful, when the source does not intentionally or unintentionally mislead or falsify information. May the court of public opinion at least be aware of the existence of the document filing system and the ability of citizens to read the actual pleadings and judge for themselves.
Emily G. Adams