Good News From the Illinois Supreme Court

The Springfield Journal Register reports that beginning in January, the Illinois Supreme Court will release audio and video recordings of the oral arguments before it. The article states:

The court announced Friday that the arguments should be available on its Web site – – the day after they take place, or possibly even sooner.

“I’m very excited about this new technology,” Chief Justice Robert Thomas said in a news release. “It will provide the parties with a record of their appearance before the court, and it will help the public better understand what we do.”

Supreme Court spokesman Joseph Tybor said in an interview that making oral arguments available online is “something the court has been interested in for some time.”

According to the article, there will be three cameras, one facing the attorneys and the other two facing the front of the courtroom.

The article goes on to say:

Audio files will be in the MP3 format, and a podcast feed will be available. Video files will be in the Windows Media format.

I am glad to see that the Court is adopting this technology. (In fact, last June, I called for the Supreme Court to do release recordings of its arguments.) I am also glad to see that the court will be using a podcast feed. These are steps in the right direction.

I just hope that the Court continues to take these steps. Right now, Illinois is woefully behind the times in even considering a viable electronic filing system in its courts.  As I stated in June:

The state of electronic filing in this state is absolutely abysmal. Further it appears as though any possibility of electronic filing is headed toward a hopelessly convoluted system where every county has their own version and own system.

Unfortunately, in the 6 months since I posted that initial statement, I have see little out of the Supreme Court that would lead me to believe that a viable and usable electronic filing system is within our foreseeable future.

In the above quoted article, Tybor (the Court spokesman) is quoted, saying:

“This is a Supreme Court that hasn’t turned away from technology and hopes to use technology to enhance justice and to enhance the educational value of the system,” Tybor said.

This is a great sentiment. However, I would like to see a little more action behind it. It is fantastic that the Court is making recordings of its argument available to the public. Why is it, however, that at least 14 other states (including Florida, Texas, Indiana, and Wisconsin) beat Illinois to the punch?