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Updates on Broadcast Access, Misconduct in the Judiciary and PACER

1. Arguments in May will be streamed live on C-SPAN, and FTC will keep an updated list of livestream links here.

2. Joining SCOTUS, 27 state supreme courts have held remote or socially distanced hearings during the pandemic, all but three of which provided some form of real-time access to the public. Since our report came out, which catalogued 22 of the 27, top courts in Georgia, Kentucky and Wisconsin provided a video livestream, South Dakota’s streamed audio live and Connecticut’s offered delayed audio. Ten more state courts of last resort (CO, FL, IN, LA, MD, NH, OR, PA, WA and WY) plan to hold virtual arguments in the coming weeks. Nine of 13 federal appeals court have also livestreamed remote arguments to date.

3. FTC is tracking several ongoing cases of potential judicial misconduct. A complaint against federal defenders in Western North Carolina over repeated incidents of harassment, and the judiciary’s lacking response, was recently transferred to D. Massachusetts by Chief Justice Roberts. Sixth Circuit judges appear to have been illicitly involved in fundraising for the University of Michigan Law School, perhaps a worthy cause, but still a violation of the Code of Conduct (p. 14). D. Colorado Judge William Martinez donated funds to a political campaign, and after FTC notified his chief judge, an investigation was conducted by the Tenth Circuit, the upshot of which being that the judge says the funds were donated by his wife, erroneously under his name, and he promises not to do it again.

4. Gabe cowrote for the R Street blog with Anthony Marcum on the Supreme Court’s decision in Georgia v. and its parallels to the longstanding beef we have over PACER fees. It’s pretty rich for the court to come out against “a subscription or pay-per-law service” when the judiciary has been using a pay-per-filings-viewed service as a cash cow for years, scheduled to run a $83.6 million surplus (p. 6) this year.

5. Last but not least, Rep. Mike Quigley introduced a bill yesterday that would require, among other things, livestreaming and archiving of certain proceedings during the pandemic. We endorsed the bill, pointing to the need for a uniform, pro-transparency broadcast policy in appeals courts and a uniform pro-transparency broadcast policy in trial courts.

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