Last Friday, the Third Circuit announced that it will begin to post on its website, www.ca3,uscourts.gov, “videos of oral arguments in select cases,” more specifically, those that are “deemed to be of significant interest to the public, the bar, or the academic community.” The Third Circuit thus becomes the second Court of Appeals to make oral argument videos available to the public. The Supreme Court of New Jersey has offered live webcasts of all oral arguments since January 2005.
Posting of video will begin later this month. The court already posts audio recordings of all oral arguments shortly after arguments conclude for the day. That practice will continue unaffected.
Counsel for both sides will be asked to file brief summaries of the case when they are notified that their appeal will be set for oral argument. Counsel will also be asked whether they recommend that a video of the argument be posted. The decision whether to post video will, however, remain in the discretion of the court, which will decide that after the argument. Should the court decide to post video, counsel will be notified and given another chance to object by the close of business on the day following their receipt of notice that the video is proposed to be posted.
According to the new Internal Operating Procedures that the Third Circuit announced, a decision to post video requires a unanimous vote of the panel that heard the argument. The IOP’s also state that no opinion or order need be entered before a video can be posted.
This is a development to be applauded. As Chief Judge Smith stated, this step “opens a window through which the public will see the essential role that our federal judiciary plays in ensuring equal justice for all.” Now if only the Supreme Court of the United States would follow suit, as I and others suggested here.