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Collegeville's GigiK helps beat the system with KOP-based Free Court Dockets

He has a big, long, hard to pronounce name, so Gigi Kizhakkechethipuzha generally goes by the moniker Gigi K in Philadelphia entrepreneurial circles. Kizhakkechethipuzha's website Free Court Dockets is, he says, the only place online to get a federal case docket for free. The site, with a brand new design, will relaunch on or before February 14.

Otherwise, attorneys and legal researchers must use the Public Access to Court Records (PACER) Case Records locator system, which is about to raise prices 25 percent, from $.08 to .10 per page, starting in April 2012.
Kizhakkechethipuzha explains that while researchers have been charged per page for US District Civil or Criminal, US Bankruptcy, US Appellate, US Federal Claims, or US International Trade records since 2005, 14 universities were exempt until 2009, when even that avenue was closed.

According to an article in Ars Technica, "PACER locks public documents behind a paywall, lacks a reasonable search engine, and has an interface that's inscrutable to non-lawyers."
While activist Carl Malamud and Senator Joe Lieberman fought for the public's right to access to the documents, the paywall remains, and the search function remains a hurdle for lay audiences. Two large firms, LexisNexis and Westlaw, offer a more user friendly interface, but that ease comes at a premium price.

The King of Prussia startup Free Court Dockets has a different pricing structure, explains Kizhakkechethipuzha. The cost of obtaining the records will be covered by advertising revenue on the site and user donations.
Kizhakkechethipuzha, who lives in Collegeville, originally got into legal information services via inspiration delivered nearly to his front door. His neighbor, an attorney, was explaining how court scheduling orders often got mixed up, and a lawsuit could result from a missed court date. Kizhakkechethipuzha developed Docket Digest, which was an automated system to download and extract court dates to keep attorney calendars straight. While Docket Digest is no longer in existence, Free Court Dockets grew out of it.

Kizhakkechethipuzha, whose office is in King of Prussia, also operates several other startups, including Courtport, for legal research, Gami LLC, which offers outsourced business processes and applications (Kizhakkechethipuzha works with developers based in India), and Talentoid, an online job recruitment resource.

Source: Gigi Kizhakkechethipuzha, Free Court Dockets
Writer: Sue Spolan
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