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Letter to Texas Federal Court Requesting Live Audio in Upcoming Hearing

March 13 update: This request has been rejected, per an email from the clerk: “Proceedings of our court are open to the media and the general public. Current Judicial Conference policy does not permit what you have requested.”

Hon. Karen Mitchell
Clerk, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas
1100 Commerce Street, Room 1452
Dallas, TX 75242
Delivered via email

March 12, 2023

Dear Clerk Mitchell,

This is Gabe Roth with Fix the Court, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for greater transparency and accountability in the federal judiciary.

Due to heightened interest in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, et al., v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, et al., 22-223, I am requesting that the audio of Wednesday’s hearing in the case be livestreamed to the public.

I realize that fulfilling this request would require a quick turnaround, but I trust there are local, or near-local, court administrators who would be willing to help if called upon: currently, the Fifth Circuit is one of the leading circuits when it comes to using livestream technology for its hearings, and state courts located in Potter Co. have been livestreaming for years. (Though a call-in number might accomplish the same vis-a-vis real-time audio, they are less reliable and more restrictive than either an embedded livestream link or an external link to audio posted on, say, Vimeo or YouTube, so I would caution against that.)

In addition, I believe that given the reported security concerns around Wednesday’s hearing, having a livestream for the press and public to access would mitigate at least some of these concerns and help minimize disruptions and possible protests.

Finally, I understand there is currently a live audio pilot program being conducted by the Judicial Conference of the United States in about 30 U.S. District Courts and U.S. Bankruptcy Courts across the country, which does not include N.D. Texas, and that Conference policy that states, “Only courts designated as pilot courts are permitted to stream live audio of civil proceedings.”

However, the Judicial Conference is meeting on Tuesday, at which point this policy, as well as the pilot itself, may end or be changed. Given that 17 of the 26 members of the Conference, plus the presiding officer, permit livestreaming in their courtrooms, I am confident that plans to livestream Wednesday’s hearing would garner ample support from judicial administrators at the national level.

Thank you for your consideration,
Gabe Roth

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