The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently changed its operating procedures to provide for the posting of argument videos on the internet.
The new rule provides an opportunity for counsel to object to the posting, which then requires that all judges on the panel agree that the video be posted. http://www.ca3.uscourts.gov/sites/ca3/files/011317IOP_Final_Chpt2_Insert.pdf
Because of the opportunity to object to posting, the rule anticipates that argument videos will not immediately be viewable on the internet, which may make these items less newsworthy. The press release from the court noted that the Third Circuit becomes only the second federal appeals court in the nation to make oral argument videos publicly available.
Chief Judge Smith noted: “Our Court is committed to making the appellate judicial process more accessible to the general public.”
These arguments have always been open to the public but, in my experience, I rarely see anyone present who does not have a direct interest in the case.
It is a shame, really, that more people do not attend, including students. The 3rd Circuit has, in my experience, always been a “hot court.” The judges are very conversant with the facts and the issues in the case. The judges are respectful to counsel and arguments are intellectually challenging, and thus enjoyable from my perspective.
While arguments may now be more accessible to the public, I suspect they will be primarily of interest only to lawyers and members of the press who wish to report on cutting edge legal issues.