Media Law Prof Blog

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Louisiana State Univ.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Courts and the New Media

Karen Salaz, Thomas Hodson, and Chris J. Davey have published New Media and the Courts: The Current Status and a Look at the Future. Here is the abstract.
The Conference of Court Public Information Officers report on new media and the courts finds that more than one-third of state court judges and magistrates responding to a survey use social media profile sites like Facebook, while less than 10 percent of courts as institutions use social media for public outreach and communication. After a year of study and online collaboration, the report reveals a judicial branch that clearly recognizes the importance of understanding new media but is proceeding cautiously with concerns about effects on ethics, court proceedings and the ability to support public understanding of the courts.

The report predicts that in the coming years, courts will re-examine state codes of conduct for judges and judicial employees, model jury instructions, rules on cameras in the courtroom and other areas. It makes other predictions and also recommends further research and specific steps for the judicial community to continue to respond productively to new media.

The project was first suggested at the CCPIO 18th Annual Meeting in August 2009 in St. Paul, Minn. A proposal for pursuing the research was approved by the CCPIO board in September. About 120 judges, journalists, public information officers, court managers and academics participated in sharing ideas and information about new media and the courts on the online social media site Ning.com from November 2009 to August 2010. (See Appendix A for a list of members.) A framework for the research was presented and discussed at a workshop in Columbus, Ohio, in February 2010. A series of discussions was held with students and faculty at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism in spring 2010. The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) assisted in the development and administration of a national survey of judges, magistrates and court administrators conducted in June 2010.

A draft of the final report was presented to the membership of CCPIO at its 19th Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Aug. 9 to 11, 2010. And the final report was released online and to the media Aug. 26, 2010.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

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