Florida Supreme Court to Begin Streaming on Facebook Live

Source: Florida Supreme Court Facebook, Photo by Karrie Larson

Increasing Courtroom Transparency & Making Them the Coolest of the Cool

Aristotle once posited that the most advantageous course of human action lies at the center of two extremes. Great fear must be countered by great courage, weakness met with strength, with the end goal being the harmony attained at that effervescent, nougaty middle ground.

It is a philosophy echoed throughout modern culture. There must always be a Dark Side and a Light Side of the force. For every Batman, there is a Joker.

And in the Florida Supreme Court, bold steps are being taken toward the shimmering future, directly counteracting the fact that the whole state is covered in dinosaurs, basically.

Beginning next month, the Supreme Court of Florida will live stream all arguments via Facebook Live, according to a Jan. 23 press release Communications Director Craig Waters shared with Switchboard Live.

The Supreme Court’s choice is one that advocates of courtroom transparency believe could be a move in the right direction. Florida has been at the cutting edge of this movement since the 1970’s, when they were the first state to allow video cameras into the courtroom. In 1997, they began offering video feed of court cases via cable and, to the best of their abilities, through an online video portal dubbed Gavel to Gavel.

Source: Florida Supreme Court Facebook

“Highly Successful Model of Openness”

It’s hoped that the move to streaming via social media will make information regarding the state’s judicial system easily accessible for anyone with a Facebook account.

Chief Justice Jorge Labarga cited the court’s historic efforts in pushing for transparency and spoke optimistically about live streaming on social media, stating:

“This Court’s experiment with transparency showed everyone a better way to balance First Amendment rights against the rights of people involved in a trial or appeal. Social media will be our next step in moving this highly successful model of openness into the Twenty-First Century.”

What makes the move even more interesting is that it flies in the face of a decision made late last year by the United States Supreme Court.

Embracing Simulcasting, Shrugging Off “Character & Quality” Concerns

In September of 2017, four congressmen wrote to Chief Justice John Roberts requesting that audio of a case involving partisan gerrymandering be broadcast live via the internet, with the eventual goal of “all oral arguments” being live streamed to increase courtroom transparency.

The request was denied, with justices concerned that simulcasting the inner workings of the court system could “adversely affect the character and quality of the dialogue between the attorneys and Justices.”

But the Florida Supreme Court doesn’t see it that way. If anything, they’ve embraced social media in ways that would make a socialite Millennial seriously consider whether any of this is still cool. They’ve recently started their own podcast, Beyond the Bench, and quick glance at the outreach section of their website reveals that they have, no kidding, more Twitter accounts than the Kardashians.

Regular streams are expected to start on Feb. 5. Until then, anyone positively itchin’ to see this new service in action can get a sneak peek on Jan. 25th at 3:30 pm EST, when the Florida Supreme Court’s Facebook page will live stream their presentation of the Florida Bar Pro Bono Awards, a ceremony honoring attorneys in the area who offered their services without charge in the previous year.


Interested in adding transparency to your courtroom or company through live streaming services, but not sure where to start?

Start here.