Music to My Ears

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Perhaps not music, per se, but a harmonious, smart use of simple tech, no doubt. I thoroughly enjoyed this article posted by The Connecticut Law Tribune on about the availability of audio recordings of court proceedings by download. An experimental program that includes five federal courts was launched in 2007 by high leverl court administrators. Digital recordings of trials and hearings are made available for download through PACER, at the whopping cost of 8 cents per download. Only one of the five participating courts is in New England – Brunswick, Maine.

The Tribune interviewed the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee in Brunswick to get his impressions of the system, which are all positive. The Trustee uses the recordings to decide whether he really needs the $5 per page transcript. He can get the audio recordings faster than the transcripts and save money in the process.

What a great idea! Unfortunately, there are only five courts currently using the tech. But it appears the intent is to roll this out nationwide.

If you really can’t wait, there may be another option available in your particular court. There currently are 37 district court judges employing their own digital recording technology. They have made the recordings available on compact discs for $26. While not quite the bargain of the PACER downloads and not file-able in court, the recordings still offer a more efficient recall of the events of a hearing, motion or trial than the written transcript. 

I just love to see intelligent new uses for existing technology!

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