Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said on Tuesday that “he thought momentum was moving in support of recorded [appellate] proceedings,” according to the Blog of Legal Times’ coverage of a panel organized by the Council for Court Excellence and hosted by Venable.
Although expressing opposition to televised criminal trials, Judge Lamberth said he was “probably ready to throw in the towel” on cameras in the courts of appeals, “adding that there is limited opposition among the judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.”
In fact, the D.C. Circuit does not even make audio recordings of oral arguments available to the public as the Supreme Court and most other federal appellate courts do. This makes it impossible to read the tea leaves unless one attends oral argument in person, and it results in a dearth of informed reporting on the only public aspect of the court’s deliberative process before publication of an opinion.
- Does Oral Argument Matter?, D.C. Circuit Review (Mar. 22, 2012) (“Oral arguments ‘matter a great deal,’ Senior Judge Raymond Randolph told the Federal Bar Association’s Section on Taxation.”)
- Zoe Tillman, Judges, Attorneys Debate Cameras in the Courtroom, Blog of Legal Times (Mar. 28, 2012) (“Lamberth also said he thought that, even absent the intimidation factor, cameras can influence behavior in court. He cited the televised trial in 1995 against O.J. Simpson as an example, saying he thought witnesses ‘shaded’ their testimony because they knew they would be on camera. Lamberth said he wanted to see the results of the federal judiciary’s pilot program before coming to any more conclusions.”)
- Michelle Olsen, D.C. Circuit: Belated Observation about the Health Care Argument, Appellate Daily (Nov. 3, 2011) (“The D.C. Circuit has shown interest in improving its electronic offerings, including possible audio access, but so far, the strict audio policy remains. . . . The fact that only those in the courtroom could hear the argument may be one reason why it was “under-reported” or got “very little press attention,” as prominent blogs wrote at the time.”)