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Courts Are Conversations: An Argument for Increased Engagement by Court Leaders

NCJ Number
Garrett M. Graff
Date Published
October 2012
12 pages
This paper examines the implications for court proceedings of the proliferation of technologies that have expanded conversations across previously separate worlds and made massive amounts of information accessible in more ways to more people.
As a new generation has emerged with different expectations for conversations and interactions, courts face a challenge, i.e., how to listen to a public that now converses in different ways, on different platforms, and with different tools. The courts must address this issue on two levels: tactical and strategic. At the tactical level, courts must communicate more effectively with the public through internet sites like Facebook and Twitter about its operations, where to report for jury duty, when courts are open for business, etc. Courts benefit from this by improving court operations and positive experiences for the public. On the other hand, courts must also suppress some social media access in daily court proceedings. Just as jurors have been forbidden from reading newspapers, they must now be forbidden from using modern tools of information and opinion access while serving as jurors. The courts, however, can benefit from tapping into the multitude of media channels for obtaining information and visual access in testimony for minor traffic cases, which would save both the courts' and litigants' time and cost. The exploration of new efficiencies for resolving some cases are warranted. On the strategic level, the issue is how court leaders can engage with the public at a more thoughtful level. Traditionally, one of the unique attributes of the judiciary is its non-participation in traditional forums of questions and answers that enlighten the public on how its leaders view their roles and make their decisions. 33 references

Date Published: October 1, 2012