An innovative experiment that will turn a working Massachusetts courtroom into a test lab for social media in the courts is gearing up to launch on May 2.
Once it starts, most of what happens in the courtroom at Quincy District Court will be streamed live over the Web for anyone to see. In addition, a designated area of the courtroom will be reserved for bloggers and citizen journalists. The courtroom will be equipped with WiFi to access the Internet.
Originally named “Order in the Court 2.0,” the project has now been renamed OpenCourt. Its website, when it launches, will be at OpenCourt.us. (The site is not yet up.)
The experiment was made possible thanks to a Knight News Challenge grant of $250,000 awarded to Boston NPR affiliate WBUR, spearheaded by John Davidow, WBUR’s executive editor for new media. Since receiving the grant, WBUR has worked closely with the state judiciary and, in particular, with the judges, clerks, staff and lawyers at the Quincy court to get this off the ground.
The camera providing the live feed will be controlled by the judge, who will be able to turn it off in certain circumstances. The camera will be turned off for most domestic violence cases and also in any proceedings where state law or court rules prohibit cameras. In addition, the judge will be able to turn off the camera as a matter of judicial discretion.
The video feed will be archived and will be available for use by news organizations, bloggers and others.
You can follow the project’s progress on Twitter via @OpenCourtus.