In my Media Law blog, I often write about public officials’ attempts to block public access to information. In Ohio, Medina County Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler is doing just the opposite. He is using the Internet to enhance public access to his courtroom.
Several months ago, Kimbler began videotaping the sentencing proceedings he presides over and posting them to his court’s Web site. (Follow the link to Inside the Court: Online Edition.) He uses his own camcorder and keeps himself out of the picture, focusing on the prosecutor, defense lawyer and defendant.
For Kimbler, this is one more step in a continuing effort to make his courtroom more accessible, he told the Associated Press. The judge already uses the Internet to conduct online pretrial conferences with lawyers, and the court’s home page invites visitors to sign up to receive Kimbler’s weekly e-mail updates. The site includes a variety of court documents and docket information, verdict summaries and the daily calendar.
If the videos prove popular, Kimbler told AP, he would like to add webcasts of other court proceedings, including jury selection, change-of-plea hearings and perhaps even entire trials.