Cincinnati Post give Kudoes to Supreme Court and UK Law for Live Webcast of Oral Arguments
The Cincinnati Post praised the Live Webcast of Oral Arguments.
Oct. 31, 2007 – It’s good to see the Kentucky Supreme Court launch its surfboard on the digital seas.
The court last week began using a technology known as streaming video (sometimes referred to as webcasting) to allow computer users to watch live oral arguments. By all accounts it went smoothly, with about 1,700 viewers logged on to watch the first case – a request for a new trial in a steamy Lexington homicide.
The courts in Kentucky and elsewhere have historically been open to the public (except, say, in cases involving juveniles). But judges have been wary about allowing cameras, either still or video, into the courtroom, primarily for fear of disrupting the proceedings within.
Experience has shown, however, that even in cases being tried before juries, the presence of cameras – when properly managed by the court – is not necessarily disruptive. And whatever harm cameras might do in terms of encouraging theatrics or distracting participants is generally offset by their value in opening the courts to the larger public and giving taxpayers a more robust picture of how the legal system is performing.
The appeals courts, and particularly the state supreme courts, have always been the most remote, the most mysterious of them all. That’s all the more reason to applaud the introduction of video cameras into these chambers. As Kentucky Chief Justice Joseph E. Lambert noted in a release announcing the Supreme Court LIVE project, “Broadcasting Supreme Court oral arguments live gives every citizen access to our proceedings and an opportunity to see their highest court doing its work.”
The technology required for the webcasts is not minimal. Eight fixed cameras were mounted inside the court’s chambers, one for each justice and one trained on the podium from which the attorneys speak. The University of Kentucky College of Law is hosting the website responsible for the webcast itself, which makes sense, given that once the novelty wears off the chief audience for these productions will most likely be law students.
At least 16 other states also broadcast their Supreme Court’s oral arguments. Ohio is among them, and also offers something that Kentucky hopes to do a little later: archived webcasts of prior sessions.
As much as we applaud the idea of being able to watch lawyers and judges in action without having to drive to Frankfort or Columbus, we confess that the technological revolution that we most care about came to pass years ago when the courts began putting their opinions and other documents online. Instant and archived access to those words has been a godsend for print journalists and anyone else with an interest in the courts.
Still, we’ll cheerfully acknowledge that video images convey types of information not found in words. So if you want to get a schedule of upcoming cases to be argued before the Kentucky Supreme Court, navigate to www.courts.ky.gov or the UK College of Law’s website, www.uky.edu/law.
Fair warning, though. The next scheduled case seems a bit dry: Lach vs. Man o War LLC at 9 a.m. Nov. 14, involving issues surrounding the conversion of a limited partnership to a limited-liability company. Hey, if you want entertainment, check your TV guide. This is the real deal here.
This is a direct link to the oral arguments. Supreme Court LIVE
Live stream of oral arguments being presented to the Supreme Court of Kentucky
Supreme Court Minutes