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U.S. District Courts to Test Live Audio Streaming on YouTube (1)

Dec. 15, 2020, 4:38 PMUpdated: Dec. 15, 2020, 7:51 PM

Thirteen U.S. district courts will test live streaming audio in certain civil proceedings on YouTube as part of a two-year pilot program in the federal judiciary.

The streaming will be in civil cases of public interest where the parties consent and excludes trials and proceedings involving jurors, witnesses, and classified materials, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said Tuesday. The pilot will exclude criminal proceedings.

Two of the participating courts have already live streamed audio during the pandemic and the rest will start in February 2021. The courts volunteered to be part of the pilot and additional courts may be added in the spring, an AO spokesperson said.

The Judicial Conference authorized the program March 17 at a socially-distanced teleconference meeting as the pandemic began. Since then, the use of audio streaming has become a necessary tool for federal courts to bring the public into courtrooms.

The Supreme Court has live streamed its oral arguments during the pandemic and so have each of the 13 federal appeals courts. District courts have also tried live-streaming audio for major cases, including two participating in the program.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia’s live audio for a hearing on a presidential election-related lawsuit drew over 42,000 listeners, the AO said in the release. The Eastern District of Missouri also live streamed audio for a status conference in a case in which the U.S. government sued the city of Ferguson, Missouri over discriminatory policing policies.

The other 11 district courts participating are:

  • the Northern District of California,
  • the Southern District of Florida,
  • the District of Kansas,
  • the District of Montana,
  • the District of Nevada,
  • the Northern District of New York,
  • the Western District of Pennsylvania,
  • the District of Rhode Island,
  • the Eastern District of Tennessee,
  • the Eastern District of Washington, and
  • the District of Columbia.
(Updates with explanation for participating courts in third paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at malder@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com