In May 2011, I commented that PACER did not discuss the difference between PDF-A 1a and 1b so there seemed to be no preference for either. Since then, PACER has published detailed instructions outlining creation of PDF-A 1a format. In addition, some courts are adding this specification.
A difference without a distinction - may no longer be true. It is now important to determine whether 1a or 1b is the preferred format. Comments are invited regarding specific courts and their exact requirements.
PS: Here is a very useful seminar published on AcrobatUsers.com discussing the differences between PDF-A 1a and 1b.