Endnotes and Resources: State Supreme Court Online Outreach Efforts

 

Endnotes

1 Although this categorization implies a continuum, the author would like to emphasize the nonlinear nature of information-dissemination technologies. Depending on what the future holds, some states may bypass the "first wave" and proceed directly to the second, third, fourth, or fifth.

2 Several innovative, open-government organizations are using abundant raw government data, see, e.g., the Sunlight Foundation.

3 Those interested in subscribing to Alabama’s opinion database must fill out a paper form (the Web site will not process credit-card payments online).

4 State supreme courts already experimenting with releasing case documents online include Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. It is important to note that some of these resources are available at a designated law school or state bar association Web site—i.e., not released directly from the court.

5 Starting in the late 1990s, some trial courts have offered trial Web casts. Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit was an early innovator in bringing its first live trial to the Internet in 1999 (see Wickham, 2000). As of February 2004, the Florida Supreme Court placed a moratorium on trial Web casts and other releases of electronic court records (see Committee on Privacy and Court Records, Amended Administrative Order No. AOSC04-4, [Fla. 2004]). In 2005 the Florida Committee on Privacy and Court Records (2005) found that even a Florida state constitutional right of public access did "not include an affirmative right to compel publication of records on the Internet or the dissemination of records in electronic form." Today, Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit provides Web casts of daily arraignments. Other courts have also experimented with broadcasting trials. For example, the Delaware Municipal Court in Delaware, Ohio used to Web cast trials but discontinued the program. Some courts are experimenting with Web casts of select archived hearings, i.e., not live (see, e.g., the Medina County Domestic Relations Court at Inside the Court Blogspot, 2008, and Kropko, 2005, about Web streaming trials in Medina County).

6 Note, of course, that this remains a big reason why the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to Web cast its oral arguments.

7 Since 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court has experimented with same-day audio release of selective oral arguments, but it has remained unclear how the Court chooses which cases it will release. In September 2010, the Court announced plans to release oral argument audios for all cases the Friday following the argument date.

8 Note that once the argument on North Dakota’s calendar is heard, information about the case is moved to the site’s searchable database with links to the recording of oral argument.

9 The Web site is currently under construction thanks to a generous grant from the State Justice Institute. Another of the State Supreme Court Initiative’s projects is to publish a set of best practices for court Web sites to help state supreme courts take advantage of the numerous ways technology can help state supreme courts inform the public.

Resources

Florida Commission on Privacy and Court Records (2005). "Report and Recommendations of the Committee on Privacy and Court Records." Prepared for the Florida Supreme Court, Tallahassee, August 15.

Haltom, W. (1998). Reporting on the Courts: How the Mass Media Cover Judicial Actions. Chicago: Nelson-Hall Publishers.

Inside the Court Blogspot (2008). "Judge James Kimbler and Judge Mary Kovack Take You Inside the Court." http://insidethecourt.blogspot.com

M. R. Kropko (2005). "Ohio Lower Courts Hopping into Video Online Trend," USA Today, January 18. www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2005-01-18-sentenced-online_x.htm

Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida. "Live Broadcasts." www.ninthcircuit.org/news/live_broadcast.shtml

North Dakota Supreme Court Blog. www.ndcourts.com

Ohio Supreme Court. "Ohio State Judicial News" and "Supreme Court Case Announcements." www.sconet.state.oh.us

Sunlight Foundation. http://sunlightfoundation.com/projects

Supreme Court of Texas Blog. www.scotxblog.com

Virginia Lawyers Weekly. The SCoVA Blog. http://valawyersweekly.com/scovablog

Wickham, D. S. (2000). "Justice at Work: Watch on the Internet," Orlando Sentinel, January 3, p. C3.