Michigan courts + cell phones + civics education

Michigan to allow public to use cell phones in courts

Beginning May 1, 2020, Michiganders will be allowed to bring cell phones and other personal electronic devices, such as laptops or tablets, into courtrooms or courthouses. Court guests will be allowed to retrieve or store information, access the internet and send or receive text messages, as long as the user’s phone is on silent. However, the public will not be allowed to photograph potential or current jurors, record court proceedings without permission or take pictures of people in the courthouse without their consent.

Texas judge performs Facebook Live experiment

Texas Judge Emily Miskel conducted an interesting experiment on January 16 - she held "Office Hours on Facebook Live," which allowed her constituents to ask non-case-specific questions.  About 25 people submitted questions, and 350 people tuned in.

Chief Justice John Roberts: Civics education can combat disinformation

In his annual report to the judiciary, Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts Jr. emphasized the importance of civic education, especially at a time in which disinformation can be easily spread via social media. “In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public’s need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital.” Chief Justice Roberts described various ways judges and court staffs have stepped up to the challenge: judges are issuing opinions online to make them more accessible to the public, the judiciary is developing educational programs for students and the public, courthouses are hosting “learning centers,” and judges are participating in naturalization ceremonies. Chief Justice Roberts also pointed to two other valuable resources: the National Center for State Courts’ Justice Case Files graphic novel series, and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s iCivics program.

We want to know what resources you provide to educate the public about government, your court, judges, and more. Email us details about your project(s) and we’ll include it on NCSC’s civics education resource guide.

Florida rolling out new e-notify system statewide

At the end of this month, Florida courts officials are launching e-Notify, which provides court notifications to residents statewide. Platform users can choose how and how often they receive alerts. The system was designed to lower failure-to-appear rates and be a time saver for court clerks.

Connecticut courts moving public notices online

As of Jan. 1, 2020, the Connecticut court system started posting all notices on its website, no longer publishing announcements in newspapers. The move is expected to lower costs and potentially reach a wider audience.