January 2016


Follow Us on Twitter

New Media & the Courts Resources


Florida Court communications plan encourages use of social media
Craig Waters, Public Information Officer, Florida Supreme Court

The Florida Supreme Court has approved a statewide communications plan that encourages all courts in the state to use social media in appropriate ways to notify the public of their work. The plan calls for courts to use social media to build and maintain relationships of trust, and train for emergencies and other high-stress cases, such as high-profile trials and hearings. Designed for implementation over five years starting in 2016, the plan was developed by the Florida Supreme Court’s chief advisory body, the Judicial Management Council. Work will begin in March 2016 with a statewide meeting of court PIOs from all 26 divisions of the Florida State Courts.

New Maryland mobile app enhances access to justice
Pam Ortiz, Director, Access to Justice Department, Administrative Office of the Courts, Maryland

The Maryland Judiciary has released a new free mobile app designed to improve access to justice. The Maryland Law Help app helps citizens understand and navigate the court system, and makes legal information readily available on smartphones and tablets. App users can access the Judiciary's most popular resources including finding a lawyer or mediator, self-help videos on how to use the courts, locating proper forms, learning about Maryland law, and chatting with an attorney at the Maryland Courts Self-Help Center, which is operated by Maryland Legal Aid. Download the app.

Police using anti-crime tool that follows social media

Police in Fresno, California, are among the first in the nation to use a threat-scoring software called Beware, a new surveillance technology that is causing some controversy in the area. The software allows police to “scan a database of vehicle license plates and locations, search social media to monitor threatening individuals, use microphones placed throughout the city to gauge the location of gunshots, and monitor video cameras posted across the city.” The search returns the names of residents and scans them against a range of publicly available data to generate a color-coded threat level for each person or address: green, yellow or red. Operators for the department’s Real Time Crime Center watch 57 monitors displayed from 200 locations.

Social media, cell phone records helps FBI find jewelry thief

Abigail Lee Kemp, 24, and her accomplice, Lewis Jones III, 35, were apprehended near Atlanta earlier this month for robbing six jewelry stores across five states since April 2015. Court records detailed how FBI authorities “used the phone number to identify Kemp as a suspect, and found a photo of a maroon Honda Civic on her social media accounts that matched the description seen in one of the surveillance videos.” Authorities believe Kemp stole $2.2 million in jewels during her crime spree. Kemp maintained her composure when she appeared before a judge on January 11, but she began to weep when U.S. marshals put handcuffs on her and she was ushered out of the courtroom.

NCSC's top January tweet

Social media tip of the month—Always go for quality over quantity

We welcome suggestions for future content and feedback on current issues.
Please e-mail Deirdre Roesch.