Federal Appeals Court to Live Stream Proceedings

By Beacon Staff

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court that meets in San Francisco and other Western cities will soon stream some of its hearings live over the Internet, the court announced on Monday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it plans to broadcast its en banc proceedings starting with five cases scheduled for oral arguments between December 9 and 11. It is believed to be the first time a federal appellate court will broadcast live video of a proceeding, said court spokesman David Madden.

An en banc court is used to resolve legal conflicts between 9th Circuit judges that are deemed of great importance. The court hears about 20 such cases a year.

“The Ninth Circuit has a long history of using advances in technology to make the court more accessible and transparent,” 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski said in a statement. “Video streaming is a way to open the court’s doors even wider so that more people can see and hear what transpires in the courtroom, particularly in regard to some of our most important cases.”

The court currently posts video of en banc proceedings online after the hearing. It is also one of only two federal appellate courts to allow news cameras in the courtroom, according to Madden.

The court has granted more than 350 media requests for video and photo coverage since the early 1990s, the court said in its news release.

The U.S. Supreme Court does not allow cameras in the courtroom, or live stream or post video footage of hearings. It does post audio recordings after hearings, Madden said.

The first case scheduled to be broadcast live by the 9th Circuit involves a lawsuit against the state of California over a law that requires police to collect the DNA of any adult arrested on suspicion of committing a felony. The plaintiffs are appealing a district court’s decision to deny them a preliminary injunction.

The other four cases include an appeal of a sex abuse conviction in Arizona and an appeal of a ruling rejecting a civil rights lawsuit alleging police in Southern California used excessive force.