US Supreme Ct Insists on Obscurity
United States: The leader of the federal court system of the world’s greatest democracy, the U.S. Supreme Court, refuses to allow its proceedings to be televised. Television is an archaic technology that dates back to the 1920s. . Refusing to be televised is akin to insisting in 1440 that the bible be penned by monks in ink, longhand, rather than using the newfangled Gutenberg printing press. Our high court’s annual rulings are initially handed out on paper by the court’s public relations staff and then posted on its web site.
Victoria, Australia: The Supreme Court of Victoria this month announced a plan to launch several new technology initiatives. Here are some of its goals:
- The Court will become fully paperless by 2016.
- It is recruiting retired judges to blog for the court.
- The court is developing an interactive website. Viewers can watch Video on Demand, download judgment summaries and judgments, leave comments on the Supreme Court News website, and participate in an Internet Forum.
- The Court just launched a Facebook page last week and already has a Twitter feed with nearly 2500 followers.
- The Court plans to look at other social media opportunities such as LinkedIn.
According to the Hon. Marilyn Warren, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria:
“It’s about openness so the community can see and know what we do in the courts, it’s also a way for the courts to make sure that the community are appropriately informed of what happens in court, the reality about the cases, not the story in the media that the editors want to put out, the community can read that, but they should know the actual facts.”
Moreover, Judge Warren notes that at one time the print media assigned skilled legal affairs reporters to cover the courts but in this era of cutbacks there are fewer and fewer court reporters to inform the public about the court’s proceedings. “The opportunity for the public to see what the courts do unmediated by journalists and editors may go a long way towards educating the public about the role of the judiciary. It is also a way of reaching younger generations,” she added.
Fortunately, some state courts in the United States are slightly more progressive than the U.S. Supreme Court. According to a survey by the Conference of Court Public Information Officers, almost 12 percent of state courts at least use Facebook.