Australian State Supreme Court and social media

Stuff reports:

The Australian Supreme Court is joining Facebook and launching a website with live videos and retired judges’ blogs in a bid to preserve the concepts of open justice and a fair trial in the digital age.

Chief Justice Marilyn Warren said on Monday that the concept that justice must be done and seen to be done was a “fundamental tenet of Australian democracy.” …

Judges could not engage in public discussion about their decisions or controversial legal issues to maintain their independence and impartiality. But the court’s website could feature blogs from retired judges “to create greater community understanding around controversial issues.

“This will represent a historic shift away from traditional judicial reluctance to explain or defend judicial decisions that are made in accordance with the rule of law,” Chief Justice Warren said.

I really like the idea of having retired judges blog on legal issues. It is a great way to improve understanding of our legal system. The Ministry of Justice and judiciary in NZ should look at doing it here.

“Communication judges” – Justices Simon Whelan, Anne Ferguson and Jack Forrest – and the court’s communications manager, Anne Stanford, would soon meet to discuss the current website, which was “clumsy, difficult and sometimes impossible to navigate. It is contemplated that other than the judges, no-one over 30 will be allowed to participate in the meeting.”

New media forums, including on tablets and smart phones, allowed the public to access a more views about court decisions online. But it was important for the court to directly engage with the public, as newspaper circulations declined and courts faced greater scrunity than ever before, with decisions “constantly reviewed, questioned and critiqued.” …

The Supreme Court already streamed judges’ sentencing remarks in criminal trials in a bid to “fill the void left by” fewer court reporters: “When web-streaming is used the community can check for themselves what transpires in the Supreme Court and see and what the judiciary actually do when they administer the law.”

I’d love to see that here also – streaming of all sentencing decisions, along with all decisions available online.

UPDATE: Note it is a state supreme court, not the Australian High Court.

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