Thursday, November 3, 2011

11th Circuit: Some Progress on Argument Audio

Eight federal appellate circuits post oral argument audio to their websites, while five do not. See audio links here (available permanently under "Resources" on the Appellate Daily sidebar).

Of the holdout courts, the Eleventh Circuit has the most restrictive audio policy: no public access. According to its Local Rule 34-4(g): "Oral argument is recorded for exclusive use of the court." Earlier this year, though, the court made an exception for the health care argument, offering audio CDs for sale to the public.

Looks like the experiment went well.

The Eleventh Circuit judges have voted to make the CD option the norm, based on an article yesterday in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a follow-up call I made to the clerk's office about details. While confirming the judges' vote, the clerk's office emphasized that the restrictive local rule will need to be revised before the change becomes official.

Yes, "CD-for-a-fee" still seems somewhat "Model T" compared to the eight circuits' (and the Supreme Court's) free online audio, but it definitely beats no access. I'll keep my eye out for the official change and blog about it.

More Appellate Daily coverage about oral argument audio is here (importance of access) and here (Fourth Circuit's addition of free online audio).