A year after the federal Judiciary began its cameras in the courtroom pilot program in 14 federal trial courts, 39 court proceedings are available online for public viewing on the Judiciary’s website. The video recordings and brief summaries of the cases are organized by court, subject matter, and procedural posture. The posted videos have been viewed over 28,000 times since the pilot began in July 2011.
The 14 courts volunteered for the pilot and were selected by the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management (CACM) in consultation with the Federal Judicial Center, which is studying the 3-year pilot.
“From the start of this digital video pilot program, the CACM Committee has emphasized the importance of public access,” said Judge Julie A. Robinson (D. Kan.), CACM committee chair. “It is encouraging that so many civil proceedings are now available online for the public to see, as if they were in the courtroom themselves.”
Participating courts follow guidelines (pdf) endorsed by the Conference. The courts record the proceedings themselves; proceedings may not be recorded without the approval of the presiding judge and the parties in the case. The pilot includes only civil cases; photographing or broadcasting criminal proceedings in federal courts has been prohibited under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 53 since 1946.
The Judicial Conference has authorized each appellate court to decide whether to permit broadcasting of oral arguments. Two courts of appeal—the Second and the Ninth—allow such coverage.