In a move that no other court in the world has made, the Florida Supreme Court has agreed to broadcast proceedings on Facebook through its “Live” video feature. This means that proceedings will be available for any Facebook user around the world to watch as they happen.
The idea behind this move on behalf of the Florida high court is to provide transparency in a system that is largely mysterious to the general public. Therefore, beginning in February of this year, all arguments will be available in real time on Facebook Live to give those who are interested a direct view into the workings of a state Supreme Court Case.
History of Cameras in the Courts
Cameras have been allowed in the courts since the 1970s when Florida became the first state to place cameras inside the courtrooms. In 1997, the Florida Supreme Court put video cameras in their courtrooms to make feeds available by satellite over the cable network, The Florida Channel, and eventually on the Internet.
Prior to the initiative to provide the feeds over Facebook Live, video footage from oral arguments in the Florida Supreme Court have been available on the Court’s website, allowing those who are aware of the feature to log onto the website and view proceedings there. However, the move to broadcast on Facebook will open up the audience to those who actively use social media on a regular basis.
Drawbacks to Facebook Live & Courtroom Cameras
One of the voiced concerns about broadcasting these proceedings on Facebook Live has to do with the option for users to make comments on the videos. Craig Waters, a spokesman for the Court, says that all posts by viewers will be allowed unless they are deemed to be obscene or otherwise inappropriate.
Some worry that cameras in general inside the courtrooms could interfere with the Court’s main goal, which is providing justice. Another concern is that the cameras could be distracting and could alter the proceedings, denying some the right to a fair trial. While defendants can petition judges to exclude cameras during their trial, this exclusion rarely happens.
No Cameras in U.S. Supreme Court
While this initiative is happening on the state level, all cameras, including cell phones, are still prohibited in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Some pilot projects to allow cameras to be used in federal courts, but the use of cameras there is still unusual.
Facebook Live Begins February 5, 2018
The first arguments to be aired on Facebook Live will happen on Monday, February 5, 2018. The hope by the court and advocates of the new policy is that this attempt to utilize technology by the court will enhance the public’s understanding of the judicial system. Through Facebook’s large reach, the goal is to engage as many users as possible who want to learn more about the way that our highest court in Florida works to deliver justice in our state.
Florida Supreme Court to air hearings on Facebook Live. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2018, from http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/florida-supreme-court-air-hearings-facebook-live/0UeXiZvkqWPHuXXIPzigfN/