Michigan Supreme Court enters electronic age

By Roberta M. Gubbins

Legal News

The Michigan Supreme Court has entered the "electronic cottage" world predicted by Alvin Toffler in his book "The Third Wave" (1980). When Toffler's book was published the thought of sitting at home watching in real time the oral arguments of the Michigan Supreme Court on a tablet computer was unheard of. In those years if you wanted to hear and see the court in action, it was necessary to be sitting in the court listening and watching as it happened.

Michigan's Supreme Court began its first steps into the electronic world in 1996 when Supreme Court oral arguments and other proceedings were broadcast via Michigan Government Television; MGTV ceased broadcasting in December 2012.

Starting with oral arguments the first week of March, it is now possible to follow court hearings through live streaming via the Internet. With a click of the mouse or a swoosh or tap of a finger, the courtroom appears on the screen.

The cameras follow the speakers so the viewer can see the attorneys as they speak and the justices as they ask questions. A "zipper" runs along the bottom of the screen identifying the speaker. Case summaries, prepared by the Court's Office of Public Information, are available for those who wish more information about the cases they are watching. They are online along with briefs in the cases at http://courts.mi.gov/Courts/MichiganSupremeCourt/Clerks/Oral.

Live streaming the court's hearings "is a natural extension of this court's commitment to transparency," said Chief Justice Robert P. Young Jr. "We are using technology to improve public service. If the public can see this court in action now from their own PCs and in the convenient settings of home, office, or school they will be better informed about their government"

Viewers can watch Michigan Supreme Court hearings using the link: http://courts.mi.gov/courts/michigansupremecourt/clerks/oral-arguments/pages/live-streaming.aspx.

In addition to the live streaming of hearings, the court now offers an app for those who wish to have immediate access to Michigan's rules of procedure and local rules, the federal rules of procedure and local rules, PACER, the Michigan bar directory of attorneys, and more.

The Mich Courts app is now available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

To download search the Apple App Store for Michigan Courts.

The Mich Courts app was designed by a third party app developer, and neither the app nor advertisement are endorsed by any particular entity. The court also offers archived video of its hearings on the State Bar of Michigan's "Virtual Court" page at http://www.michbar.org/courts/virtualcourt.cfm.

Published: Wed, Mar 20, 2013