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Livestreaming Edge Goes to State Supreme Courts, Says FTC

Before and during pandemic, many state supreme courts utilize livestreaming for arguments.

WASHINGTON—When it comes to livestreaming court cases, the state supreme courts are leading the way, according to a new report from Fix the Court.

During the current coronavirus pandemic, 22 of the 50 state supreme courts are conducting remote hearings, 20 of which are livestreamed. Another 11 have plans to begin holding remote proceedings.

Of the 20 courts streaming, 15 are doing so with video (Alaska, Arizona, California, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and West Virginia). The other five (Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Virginia) are streaming the audio.

Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin have plans to stream live video. Connecticut, South Dakota and Wyoming will offer live or delayed audio, per FTC. The other 17 states have either cancelled arguments or have not yet announced any plans for streaming.

Even prior to the pandemic, 33 state supreme courts were offering live video of arguments, while 10 provided live audio.

The Supreme court, and other federal appeals courts, have more restrictive policies in place regarding the sharing of arguments. The Supreme Court has announced that it will be doing remote oral arguments, for which the audio will be available live.

“With the country adapting to working remotely and using online platforms that facilitate face-to-face meetings, state supreme courts should be no different,” said Gabe Roth, FTC executive director. “Luckily, the top judges in most states are donning their robes from a safe distance and are having arguments via Zoom, WebEx and other remote platforms, while allowing the public to watch or listen in live. The federal judiciary could learn a lot from them.”

The full report is available on Fix the Court’s website.