US court records are not copyrighted, but the US court system operates a paywall called "PACER" that is supposed to recoup the costs of serving text files on the internet; charging $0.10/page for access to the public domain, and illegally profiting to the tune of $80,000,000/year.
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In the age of Internet, discussions about the federal government and its functions are informed by and rely on our unprecedented access to federal documents. Anyone can freely view public records online, such as proposed Congressional legislation
and presidential executive orders
. Accessing public court documents, however, is a bit trickier. As Katherine Mangu-Ward wrote for the Wall Street Journal
in 2011, "no aspect of government remains more locked down than the secretive, hierarchical judicial branch."
In which we review the penultimate episode of Better Call Saul’s debut season. Spoilers ahead.
Remember when the idea for Better Call Saul first floated around in television production gossip, and it was conceived as a half-hour comedy? There has been a lot of controversy over the new rules for category eligibility at the Emmys, with Shameless making it into Comedy despite its hour-long runtime and decidedly serious worldview, and Orange Is The New Black finally shifting over to compete in its rightful category as a Drama. I had a screenwriting professor who worked in Los Angeles throughout the 90s and 00s, and was still livid that Ally McBeal got to compete as a comedy when it was an hour-long dramedy that had no business going up against sitcoms.
Those are all semantic arguments about categorizing shows when there’s a lot of mutability. But imagining a world where Better Call Saul isn’t 45 minutes of deliberate, enthralling dramatic irony, holding a hopeful carrot out in front of Jimmy when the audience knows there’s a banana peel waiting to catch his foot, makes me shudder with would’ve been lost.
The cold open to “RICO” is one of my favorites so far this season, because it succinctly encapsulates the futile tragedy of James McGill. Better Call Saul eluded to the fact that Jimmy worked in the HHM mailroom, but here it’s on full display, as he cheerfully delivers mail to everyone around the office, with the added bonus that he knows pretty much everyone’s name. But the reason the show ventures to this moment in McGill history is because it’s the day Jimmy believed his life would change: when he passes the bar and becomes a lawyer in the state of New Mexico. Read the rest
In order for Better Call Saul to inch closer to the timeline it’s trying to meet, James McGill’s difficult life has to fester into bitterness. He’ll do anything to escape it.
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