SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals announced Monday that this month it will become the first federal appeals court in the country to use its technology to provide live video coverage of hearings on major cases.
“The 9th Circuit has a long history of using advances in technology to make the court more accessible and transparent,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski said. “Video streaming is a way to open the court’s doors even wider so that more people can see and hear what transpires in the courtroom, particularly in regard to some of our most important cases.”
The court has permitted the news media to broadcast live coverage in some cases in the past, but under the new policy, all en banc hearings will be live streamed on the court’s website.
Most cases are decided by three-judge panels. About 20 cases a year are heard en banc by panels that include the chief judge and 10 other jurists chosen randomly. They often decide the court’s most contentious cases.
The video streaming with begin Dec. 9 in a case that will determine whether law enforcement in California may collect and store DNA profiles from people when they are arrested, even if the charges are later dropped.
The 9th Circuit is one of only two federal appellate courts that have allowed cameras in the courtroom. The court said it has granted 378 media requests for still and video photography since the early 1990s.
The 9th Circuit tried to provide online broadcasts of a 2010 trial over the constitutionality of Proposition 8, but the Supreme Court forbade it. That trial examined same-sex marriage and resulted in a ruling that struck down the now-defunct 2008 ballot measure banning gay marriage.