Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

August 15 2012

14:00

Massachusetts Courts Allow Citizen Journalists to Register to Live-Blog

The information office of the highest court in Massachusetts just launched a new online registration process for citizens and news organizations wishing to use cameras and other electronic equipment to cover court hearings throughout the state.

gavel.jpg

The process is a lead-in for amended courtroom media rules that become effective next month. Key changes to Rule 1:19, the state's cameras-in-the-courtroom statute, include:

  • A redefining of the media to include citizen journalists "who are regularly engaged in the reporting and publishing of news or information about matters of public interest," and
  • Allowance, with permission of the judge, to use laptop computers, tablets, smartphones and other devices to cover the proceedings, including live-blogging.

Once a news media organization or individual has registered, the state will return a signed acknowledgment form which must be presented alongside photo ID to courthouse officials if electronic devices would be brought into a courthouse or courtroom.

Additionally, as is the current policy, the news media must request permission beforehand from the presiding judge to use a pool camera or electronic device in the courtroom during those proceedings.

The SJC's amended Rule 1:19 is effective on September 17, 2012.

Joe Spurr is a multimedia journalist and a web developer. Before coming to WBUR, he was the staff web developer for San Diego's NPR station, which he helped completely overhaul in 2009. He pioneered the station's adoption of Twitter and Google "My Maps" which culminated during the 2007 California wildfires, built layered, interactive maps to help track the drug-related murder surge in Tijuana, and produced in a roving, three-person skeleton crew from the DNC and RNC in 2008. Joe is a Boston native, a graduate of Northeastern University, and a former freelance reporter at The Boston Globe.

This post originally appeared on the OpenCourt blog.

November 17 2010

14:47

Order In The Court 2.0 Adds Staff, Plans Live-Streams from Court

In the last few weeks Order in the Court 2.0 has made enormous strides in moving forward with our project. Most importantly we've brought on board two very talented individuals who are responsible for the day-to-day operation of this project. Below is the note that I put out to the staff of WBUR, which is the home-base of this Knight News Challenge initiative.

New Staff

Joe Spurr and Val Wang are joining WBUR to work on our new online initiative, Order in the Court 2.0. Order in the Court 2.0 is a Knight News Challenge funded initiative that will explore the impact of digital technology on our nation's courts using Quincy District Court as a pilot courtroom.

Joe is the project's director and will be responsible for the design and development of the Order in the Court 2.0 website. He will also lead the development of the project's live-streaming capacity and work with the state court's chief technology office to build a system that serves the public, but also guarantees the rights of individuals who go before the court.

Joe joins us from KPBS where he was the station's lead web developer for the recently redesigned KPBS.org website. Prior to that he was the site's content producer where he pioneered the adoption of using Twitter and Google Maps in breaking news situations during the 2007 California wildfires. Joe is a Boston native, a graduate of Northeastern University and a former freelance reporter at the Boston Globe.

Val Wang is Order in the Court 2.0's producer and will oversee the production of the daily stream of written and video content originating out of Quincy District Court. She will also lead the project's social media outreach and be responsible for engaging the public with this initiative. Many of you may have already met Val while she has been here freelance producing for Here and Now and On Point. Val is an experienced multimedia producer who has worked for Reuters Television and NBC News. Most recently she was the multimedia producer for the UNICEF website where she won a prestigious Webby award for her work. Val has a master's degree in non-fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University and earned her undergraduate degree at Williams College.

Joe and Val will spend the next couple of months working at the station as the project takes shape. Starting early next year the project will be based out of Quincy District Court.

Their Roles

I also asked Joe and Val to describe a bit of how they see their respective roles in making this a successful project.

Here's Joe's:

As director of Order in the Court 2.0, much of my energy at the outset will focus on technology, so the stage can be set when we've got enough agreed-upon policy in place to make some baby steps in public. For now this means collaborating to wire-up the courtroom in Quincy to support a quality video stream, and helping design a site and set up its back-end in a way that best serves our anticipated primary content. With so many moving pieces ahead of us, we're whiteboarding a lot and keeping in touch as best we can with court officials and lawyers who have a vested interest in our success.

Once we're up and running, I imagine I'll be spending more time helping produce content, and hopefully vetting ideas to expand upon the site's basic public service as a window into the local justice system. My greater hope is that we pave the way a bit and create a blueprint of sorts for how to modernize a courtroom for public good: technology-wise and policy-wise. In tandem with that, to help us understand what's happening beyond the day-to-day, I think there's enormous potential value in mindfully archiving court proceedings and creating usable web applications to illuminate that data.

It's a fascinating time and I'm thrilled to be a part of an honest effort to help democracy evolve.

And here's Val's:

As the producer of Order in the Court 2.0, I'll be in Quincy District Court every day experimenting with how the latest technologies can be used to cover cases -- I'll be blogging and micro-blogging about cases, and video-streaming court proceedings, for starters. I'm excited to get a front row seat to the workings of the U.S. judicial system and to use these technologies to recreate the experience for the public. I like thinking about our project like a laboratory and will remain open and curious about what works and doesn't work about our coverage as we begin to craft guidelines that other courts can use in the future. This open-endedness is key to Order in the Court 2.0 and my hope is that the project will come alive with conversations among judges, lawyers on both sides, defendants, citizen journalists, local residents, and anyone interested in the workings of the U.S. legal system in the 21st century.

Right now we're spending a lot of our time on project management, establishing goals for the project and setting up a BaseCamp to coordinate our efforts.

We'd love to get feedback from all of you. What would you like to see come out of this project and how could we help you better understand what is going in the courts in your community?

September 28 2010

17:46

How is Privacy Protected with Transparency Coming to Courts?

Going into last week's meeting at Quincy District Court, Joan Kenney, the state court's chief public information officer and I had a quick phone meeting on what we were going to talk about at an upcoming meeting with Judge Andre A. Gelinas. Judge Gelinas, a retired justice who sat on the Massachusetts Appeals Court, now serves as the Special Advisor to the Chief Justice for Administration & Management for Information Technology.

In short, Judge Gelinas was going to be a legal referee for Order in the Court 2.0 who will help us determine what the project could or should be able to do in court. Another attendee due at the meeting was Judge Mark Coven, the Chief Judge at Quincy Court who has been an eager supporter and advocate for this project.

Joan and I decided that we'd keep the agenda short and simple. We wanted to get the judge's advice on these three issues:

  1. How should we post online the daily docket of court hearings each day?
  2. What concerns might Judge Gelinas have on live blogging from the courtroom?
  3. What concerns would he have about live video streaming from the courtroom?

Legal Issues Arise

The meeting took place the following day. It only lasted 45 minutes, but as you can see below the discussion was wide-ranging and covered many complex legal issues. Again and again, our conversation came back to the central issue of Order in the Court 2.0: How do you balance the public's right to know and the public's right to a fair trial? Here are some of the topics we touched upon during our meeting with the judges.

  • Domestic violence cases involving individuals who are in this country without legal documentation. Would photographing these individuals or posting their names online prevent victims from coming forward?
  • What would the rules be regarding open court discussions of the mental health issues of defendants? Would this be a violation of the state's Criminal Offender Record Information statute(CORI), which protects the rights of privacy of individuals charge or convicted of crimes?
  • Criminal records are constantly read in open court, especially during bail proceedings. Would the recording and posting of these criminal records online violate the CORI?
  • In addition to live streaming of courtroom proceedings, would Order in the Court 2.0 be archiving its content? If so, would the project become an official "keeper of the records" and have to follow state statutes that oversee such records?
  • What about the court's "virtual right of privacy"? This is the concept that the information the courts holds isn't immediately accessible to the public. For example, if an individual wants to see the file associated with a particular case, that person has to go to the court where the case is being heard and physically obtain the file from the court clerk. In the court's opinion, this barrier to immediate access protects the information in those files from companies like data miners who could use that information for profit. If Order in the Court 2.0 is posting everything it records online, would this be in violation of the virtual right of privacy? And just as importantly, should this virtual right of privacy be preserved?
  • What about cases where a defendant claims mistaken identity? Would posting their pictures online compromise their ability to get a fair trial?

Ground Rules

At our meeting both judges made it clear that our project would have to establish some legal ground rules on how we approach these issues. Judge Coven, who is a strong believer that anything in open court should be fair game, wants to make sure that cases heard at Quincy District Court would not be compromised by our project. He and Judge Gelinas felt that we would need to do some fairly significant legal research to explore the issues that came up during our discussion.

In our current configuration, no one working on this project will have any formal legal training. Due to that fact, the rest of the meeting was spent doing some serious brainstorming on how we would get started working on the legal guidelines that clearly are required for this project to go forward. It was determined that we would all reach out to our contacts within the Greater Boston legal academic community for some answers to the issues that had been raised.

The meeting made it clear that the work of Order in the Court 2.0 will be a useful resource for other projects that want to provide greater access to our nation's courts. Though it was a short meeting, it clearly demonstrated the important work we have ahead of us.

August 13 2010

15:01

Order in the Court 2.0: Making the Justice System More Public

The idea behind Order in the Court 2.0, one of this year's winners of a Knight News Challenge grant, is to restore and reinvigorate the public's access and understanding of our nation's courts.

Up to now journalism has been the primary bridge connecting the public to the courts. But the media's ability to cover the courts is diminished due to shrinking resources.

At the same time, many in the public are equipped with new media tools like smartphones, Wi-Fi and access to multiple social networks.

Working with the judiciary and the public, Order in the Court 2.0 will establish best practices for effective and efficient ways to cover the courts using digital technology.

Live Streaming, Place for Bloggers, Wiki

We are the first nationally funded initiative to change how courts deal with electronic journalism since video and audio recording standards were established in the 1970's. While the legislative and the executive branch have embraced new technologies developed in the last decade, the judicial branch has been the slowest to adapt to these innovations.

Order in the Court 2.0 will create a pilot program in Quincy District Court, located just outside Boston, to serve as a laboratory to test these new media initiatives. Quincy District Court is one of the busiest courthouses in the Massachusetts with nearly 9,000 new criminal complaints filed each year.

This pilot program will equip the courthouse with live video-streaming capabilities and create designated areas for live bloggers. Additionally, we will post online the court's daily docket to better inform and engage the public of what civil and criminal cases are being heard in the area. We also plan to build a knowledge wiki that will educate the public of common legal terms and proceedings, all in an effort to add transparency to this fundamental aspect of our democratic society.

By the end of this project, the more skeptical members of the legal community -- including judges, court administrators and lawyers -- should accept, if not embrace, the advantages of increased digital access to the nation's court system. To quote Judge Mark Coven, First Justice of the Quincy District court in Massachusetts, "We have long believed that if the public had greater information about what transpires in the court that there would be increased public confidence in the work of our judicial system."

Additionally, we hoped that the effective demonstration of the success of Order in the Court 2.0 will be a model that can be emulated through the nation's courts at all jurisdictional levels.

Leadership and Partners

I will be leading a small team of digital journalists working out of Quincy District Court. My day job is executive director of wbur.org, the website of Boston NPR's website. Over the past year I've overseen our station's efforts to become a major news destination site. I'm responsible for the editorial content of our website, which includes content from our local newsroom, Radio Boston, and our nationally syndicated programs, On Point, Here and Now, and Only a Game. Prior to going over to the digital side, I was WBUR's news director for the last six years. I've also got two decades worth of local television news experience working at Boston's ABC and CBS affiliates.

The idea behind Order in the Court 2.0 came out of work being done by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Judiciary-Media Committee, of which I am a member. This committee is made up of members of the state and federal judiciary and media representatives from print, radio, television and online. This committee is trying to adapt the current cameras in the court rules to incorporate the new realities of digital access. Order in the Court 2.0 will provide real world opportunities to test out some of these proposed rule changes.

We also plan to work cooperatively with the National Conference of Court Public Information Officers. This past year the new media committee of the CCPIO has been studying the issue raised by increased digital access. It will soon release its findings. After studying the state of new media and gauging the perceptions of judges and court administrators, the CCPIO will issue a framework for the courts on how to make decisions appropriate for the use of new media. Order in the Court 2.0 adds the input of mainstream media, citizen journalists and the public at large to this equation and then tests these assumptions in real time in one of the busiest courts in the state

Challenges

One of the greatest challenges Order in the Court 2.0 will face is the fear and apprehension of the judges and court staff, who are concerned that greater access and transparency of the legal process could have a detrimental effect on the administration of justice. To address this concern, Order in the Court 2.0 will include judges and other court personnel in its development and implementation.

Order in the Court 2.0 will have to strike the appropriate balance between the public's right to know and the public's right to due process. These two rights play themselves out everyday in court and the introduction of smaller, and more accessible digital communication devices only complicate issues that the courts need to address going into the future.

Order in the Court Needs You

Even though we haven't officially started at Quincy District Court, this project is getting lots of attention thanks to coverage in the Boston Globe, Neiman Journalism Lab, Current
and even across the pond at journalism.co,uk.

But, most importantly, we'd love to know what you think of our idea. What does it need to accomplish to be a success in your mind? Let us know what you think by adding a comment below. We'd love to have you along for the ride as we attempt to bring about Order in the Court 2.0.

15:01

Order in the Court 2.0: Making the Justice System More Public

The idea behind Order in the Court 2.0, one of this year's winners of a Knight News Challenge grant, is to restore and reinvigorate the public's access and understanding of our nation's courts.

Up to now journalism has been the primary bridge connecting the public to the courts. But the media's ability to cover the courts is diminished due to shrinking resources.

At the same time, many in the public are equipped with new media tools like smartphones, Wi-Fi and access to multiple social networks.

Working with the judiciary and the public, Order in the Court 2.0 will establish best practices for effective and efficient ways to cover the courts using digital technology.

Live Streaming, Place for Bloggers, Wiki

We are the first nationally funded initiative to change how courts deal with electronic journalism since video and audio recording standards were established in the 1970's. While the legislative and the executive branch have embraced new technologies developed in the last decade, the judicial branch has been the slowest to adapt to these innovations.

Order in the Court 2.0 will create a pilot program in Quincy District Court, located just outside Boston, to serve as a laboratory to test these new media initiatives. Quincy District Court is one of the busiest courthouses in the Massachusetts with nearly 9,000 new criminal complaints filed each year.

This pilot program will equip the courthouse with live video-streaming capabilities and create designated areas for live bloggers. Additionally, we will post online the court's daily docket to better inform and engage the public of what civil and criminal cases are being heard in the area. We also plan to build a knowledge wiki that will educate the public of common legal terms and proceedings, all in an effort to add transparency to this fundamental aspect of our democratic society.

By the end of this project, the more skeptical members of the legal community -- including judges, court administrators and lawyers -- should accept, if not embrace, the advantages of increased digital access to the nation's court system. To quote Judge Mark Coven, First Justice of the Quincy District court in Massachusetts, "We have long believed that if the public had greater information about what transpires in the court that there would be increased public confidence in the work of our judicial system."

Additionally, we hoped that the effective demonstration of the success of Order in the Court 2.0 will be a model that can be emulated through the nation's courts at all jurisdictional levels.

Leadership and Partners

I will be leading a small team of digital journalists working out of Quincy District Court. My day job is executive director of wbur.org, the website of Boston NPR's website. Over the past year I've overseen our station's efforts to become a major news destination site. I'm responsible for the editorial content of our website, which includes content from our local newsroom, Radio Boston, and our nationally syndicated programs, On Point, Here and Now, and Only a Game. Prior to going over to the digital side, I was WBUR's news director for the last six years. I've also got two decades worth of local television news experience working at Boston's ABC and CBS affiliates.

The idea behind Order in the Court 2.0 came out of work being done by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Judiciary-Media Committee, of which I am a member. This committee is made up of members of the state and federal judiciary and media representatives from print, radio, television and online. This committee is trying to adapt the current cameras in the court rules to incorporate the new realities of digital access. Order in the Court 2.0 will provide real world opportunities to test out some of these proposed rule changes.

We also plan to work cooperatively with the National Conference of Court Public Information Officers. This past year the new media committee of the CCPIO has been studying the issue raised by increased digital access. It will soon release its findings. After studying the state of new media and gauging the perceptions of judges and court administrators, the CCPIO will issue a framework for the courts on how to make decisions appropriate for the use of new media. Order in the Court 2.0 adds the input of mainstream media, citizen journalists and the public at large to this equation and then tests these assumptions in real time in one of the busiest courts in the state

Challenges

One of the greatest challenges Order in the Court 2.0 will face is the fear and apprehension of the judges and court staff, who are concerned that greater access and transparency of the legal process could have a detrimental effect on the administration of justice. To address this concern, Order in the Court 2.0 will include judges and other court personnel in its development and implementation.

Order in the Court 2.0 will have to strike the appropriate balance between the public's right to know and the public's right to due process. These two rights play themselves out everyday in court and the introduction of smaller, and more accessible digital communication devices only complicate issues that the courts need to address going into the future.

Order in the Court Needs You

Even though we haven't officially started at Quincy District Court, this project is getting lots of attention thanks to coverage in the Boston Globe, Neiman Journalism Lab, Current
and even across the pond at journalism.co,uk.

But, most importantly, we'd love to know what you think of our idea. What does it need to accomplish to be a success in your mind? Let us know what you think by adding a comment below. We'd love to have you along for the ride as we attempt to bring about Order in the Court 2.0.

Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl