Monday, September 12, 2016
Last week Judge Stephen Dillard of Georgia Court of Appeals tweeted that his court is now live streaming oral arguments. The court's website contains a link that will take interested viewers to the live feed.
The issue of cameras in the courtroom has been divisive, especially at the United States Supreme Court level. Some justices feared that oral argument would become more about soundbites and less about the law. There is also concern about statements from justices being taken out of context and the public not understanding court procedures. So, while the audio from United States Supreme Court arguments is available, usually a few days after the argument is over, video cameras have not been allowed.
From an advocates standpoint, however, live streaming of oral arguments is a great learning tool. It allows an attorney to preview how different courts, and different judges or justices, operate without making a potentially costly trip to visit a particular court. It is also a great learning tool for students of appellate advocacy. Most law schools are not located near a federal appellate court, or the United States Supreme Court for that matter! Allowing students to watch arguments without the time and expense of traveling to a federal courthouse is a great tool for professors.
As it turns out, many state supreme courts offer live streaming of their oral arguments, including, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Some of these states, and other states, also include court of appeals arguments. At the federal level, the Ninth Circuit offers live streaming audio of appellate arguments. It seems likely that other federal courts will follow suit.