Thursday, December 16, 2010

D.C. Circuit: Increased Access to Oral Arguments?

As previously mentioned on this blog, the Supreme Court and seven federal appellate circuits post argument audio on the Internet, free of charge (links hereAppellate Daily sidebar). Six circuits, including the D.C. Circuit, do not.

Perhaps things are changing?

Today, the D.C. Circuit posted a listing on its website, requesting proposals from vendors "to redesign [the court's] entire web presence" (proposal deadline December 30, 2010).

Along with many other requirements, the chosen vendor needs to "support multiple file types for documents," as well aswait for it, "audio, and video." The listing also states the D.C. Circuit's interest in "explor[ing] options to alert visitors using RSS feeds, [as well as] Twitter updates."

While this listing is preliminary and does not announce or commit to anything, it does show that the D.C. Circuit is looking to the future and putting itself in a position to offer more information to the public through available technologies.

Who knows? In the coming years, we might be listening to, or even watching, arguments from our computers about the detention of suspected terrorists, stem cell research, and climate change, just a few of the nationally and internationally significant issues the D.C. Circuit hears.

The Eleventh and Fourth Circuits have also indicated a willingness to consider increased access to oral arguments. Among other important issues, these two circuits almost certainly will be involved in the health care debate, deciding appeals from district court cases in Florida and Virginia.

Stay tuned.