The Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court will see the tables turned today as he gives testimony instead of hearing it. Iowa court system spokesperson, Steve Davis, says Chief Justice Mark Cady will speak to a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on audio and video coverage of courts.
“Chief Justice Cady is gonna to talk about how media coverage of the courts started in Iowa in 1979, and how it has been successfully implemented in trial courts and the appellant courts and how it works, the process, and the successes in Iowa,” Davis says.
The Senate hearing is focused on televising the U.S. Supreme Court proceedings and one of the committee members is Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. Grassley, a Republican, has pushed for more access to the courts, and most recently asked the U.S. high court to allow broadcast coverage of oral arguments of the challenge to the federal health care law.
Davis says the Iowa Supreme Court began posting video and audio of oral arguments in its cases a few years ago. He says in 2009 budget cuts forced them to take the oral arguments down from the website and they received a lot of complaints from people who wanted to listen to the arguments. Those complaints came from attorneys, school groups and law schools.
The posts of the Iowa court’s proceedings didn’t exactly go viral, but there was interest. “We were pleasantly surprised by the number of people (who) watched the oral arguments while they were up initially,” Davis said, “In 2007 and 2008, each oral argument that was posted on the website had an average of 1,500 different views.” The oral arguments are now streamed live on the court system’s website.
Cady is one of two judges who will testify at the hearing along with Pennsylvania appeals court judge. Information from Davis shows that 37 states provide or allowed regular access to online oral argument in some format for their courts.
Senator Grassley last asked for broadcast coverage of Supreme Court oral arguments in 2000 during the Bush versus Gore battle over electoral college votes in the presidential election. The U.S. Supreme court agreed to the request and released audio immediately following the arguments.
The hearing is set for today at 9 a.m., and it will be streamed live on the Senate website at: www.judiciary.senate.gov.