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Wednesday, October 08, 2003

The Modern Court

Tony Mauro's Legal Times article of today's date ("Oral Arguments Commence at U.S. Supreme Court") describes how digital recording and electronic briefs are being incorporated into the daily business of the Supreme Court of the United States:

Before the session began Tuesday, technicians were testing the Court's sound system, which for the first time is making digital recordings of Court arguments — in addition to the reel-to-reel tapes used for the last 48 years. The test of digital recording is meant as a backup to the traditional system, which has produced low-quality recordings on occasion in recent years.

"It's a small step but an important one," says Northwestern University political science professor Jerry Goldman, who first noticed the deterioration in sound quality and urged the Court to try digital taping. If the experiment is successful, Goldman, whose Oyez Project Web site carries audio of past Supreme Court arguments, believes the digital recordings will be much easier to work with and could be more quickly accessible to the public.

The other development — this one on the Court's Web site — will make available to the public the merits briefs in cases scheduled for oral argument. The Court still requires parties to file printed briefs, but also asks them or their printers to file them electronically as well. The electronic versions are being made available at through a link to the American Bar Association's publication Preview, which provides summaries and material on upcoming high court cases.

"It's a cool public service, and we're glad to be able to offer it," says Preview editor Charles Williams.

(Links added; too many.) Speaking of progress, if memory serves I believe (?) Eugene Volokh mentioned during the Weblogs and Law discussion last Sunday that the restriction on note-taking by public attendees at Supreme Court arguments has been lifted. Can anyone confirm and/or provide more information?

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