Facebook Live is coming to the American courtroom.
More than 40 years after the Florida Supreme Court (@flcourts) welcomed cameras to its courtroom the court will become one of the first in the world to use social media media for official live video.
In a Tuesday press release, the Court announced that Thursday’s 3:30 p.m. event will showcase, on Facebook Live, the annual Florida Bar Pro Bono Awards honoring lawyers who donate services to people in need. Afterward, Facebook Live will be used permanently for all oral arguments, starting with February’s.
Chief Justice Jorge Labareleasrga nails it.
In the 1970s, Florida became the first state to allow broadcasts of its court cases at a time when every other court in the nation refused it. 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.
The court staff believes that Facebook Live – with access to the world’s 2 billion Facebook users – will, in time, eclipse the reach of other broadcast methods now being used. More than two-thirds of American adults already use Facebook.
With a smartphone in their pocket or purse, a desktop computer or digital streaming to the family room TV, people can easily watch the Supreme Court live. Just follow or scroll over to the Court’s Facebook page. You can watch as you browse other items in your News Feed.
I expect Facebook will archive the videos just as it does with my own Facebook Live videos. This will enable the court to share the video on Twitter and on its site or blog.
The Florida Bar has a reputation nationwide for limiting lawyer’s engagement of the public via the web and social media. Not so with the Court.
Justice Labarga and his fellow justices approved a sweeping court communication plan in 2015. The communication plan, called “Delivering Our Message,” was approved and forwarded to the Court by the Judicial Management Council, a court advisory body that includes judges, lawyers and non-lawyers
While emphasizing the importance of time-proven principles of effective communication, the plan called on Florida’s courts to embrace recent advances in technology and communications, including social media and podcasting.
The Court and the council saw the opportunity to maintain transparency as technology evolves – to go where the people are. Relationships of trust with the press and the public would be built and maintained as a result.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook knows that Facebook will serves as the epicenter for public discourse in the years ahead – in the United States and world-wide. In the States that means real connections of the three branches of government with the people. The Florida Supreme Court is showing other government bodies the way forward.
The Court is also showing lawyers, law firms and many bar associations who are afraid of their shadow when it comes to Facebook to get over it. Facebook is where you go if you care about communicating with people.