JUNE 2016


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New Media & the Courts Resources


Trends 2016 outlines Florida’s Communications Plan

The National Center for State Courts has released Trends in State Courts 2016, a publication that examines how courts influence the lives of people and how societal trends affect the work of the courts. This year’s edition features “Should I Tweet That? Court Communications in the 21st Century,” an article highlighting Florida’s 2016 Court Communication Plan. The plan represents “Florida’s commitment to improving public understanding of and support for the judicial branch through improved communications efforts.” The article outlines court leaders' goals for the plan: enhance public trust in confidence; establish KEY court messages; and improve communication methods and internal communication. As part of their efforts to improve communication, Florida court leaders called for the use of social media as a valuable tool. “Using social media as a communication tool affords courts the opportunity to convey important information beyond newsworthy events, such as judicial appointments or retirement.” 

Mississippi set to develop access to justice app

The Mississippi Access to Justice Commission is gathering information to include in its new, upcoming mobile app. According to Executive Director Tiffany Graves, the app "will offer information and forms for civil court proceedings like evictions, child custody and divorce cases, but will not provide legal advice." Mississippi Court of Appeals Judge Donna Barnes wants the app, which is currently under development, to be available in English and Spanish and provide users with access to lawyers to assist people when they can.

Quebec journalists now allowed to tweet from courtroom

Quebec journalists, lawyers and litigators are now able to send tweets and text messages from courtrooms. Tweeting from the Court of Quebec, Superior Court, and the Court of Appeal was banned in 2013. The ban was lifted recently because journalists would get up every few minutes during a trial to step into the hallway to tweet their reports. Michelle Somers, Executive Legal Officer for the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta, reports that the Quebec Courts found this was very disruptive and defeated the purpose of the prohibition. Media organizations requested the ban be lifted. The general public is not allowed to send tweets or text messages unless otherwise granted by a judge.  Regulations also state that "a judge can still prohibit texting and tweeting in their courtrooms for specific situations," and taking photos inside the courtroom, recording audio or filming inside remains restricted.

British teens facing jail over courtroom Facebook images

Two teenagers are facing two years jail after secretly photographing a judge in court and making offensive posts about him on Facebook.  Damien Parker-Stokes, 19 (pictured), and Kyle Cox, 18, snapped photos at the Bristol Crown Court during the sentencing of their friend, Ryan Sheppard, who was jailed for killing an engineer. The pictures were accompanied by comments which ‘vilified’ the judicial process and ‘glorified’ Sheppard. The teens were found guilty of contempt of court by the top judge in England and Wales. The crime carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

Lease addendum required tenants to 'like' landlord on Facebook

In late May tenants at a Salt Lake City apartment building found an unusual lease addendum taped to their front door. The document stated tenants "had to 'friend' the landlord's Facebook page within five days, or be found in breach of rental agreement with City Park Apartments." The addendum also included an anti-disparagement requirement "prohibiting tenants from posting negative comments about the apartment complex on any public forum or page." Despite the contract, tenants were undaunted, responding with negative comments on the landlord's Facebook, and when the Facebook page was shut down, they moved their discouraging comments to ApartmentRatings.com and Yelp. According to legal counsel for the complex, the lease addendum was a mistake and "the landlord never intended to threaten tenants with eviction."

Social media tip of the month: InfographicsA great visual guide for constituents

Courts can keep their constituents informed by designing attractive infographics at an affordable price by using online platforms like infogr.am, Venngage or Canva

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