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“Changes to the current court rules should make clear that any hearing that would otherwise be in-person and open to the public shall also be accessible to all members of the public remotely,” NEFAC wrote in a Feb. 13 letter. “There should be no difference between the access courts provide the public in-person and what they provide online.”
The coalition’s comments were in response to proposed revisions to Vermont Rule of Civil Procedure 43.1. The revisions only addressed remote and hybrid access for litigants and members of the court. Additional changes are needed to provide similar access to all members of the public, particularly the many journalists covering the court system, NEFAC explained.
NEFAC suggested several changes the new rules should incorporate, including reasonable notice requirements and the recording and archiving of all public hearings.
“The First Amendment guarantees a right of access to judicial proceedings — a right that allows the public’s understanding and oversight of the court system,” NEFAC wrote. “Remote access technology expands the opportunity for that understanding and oversight to all members of the public.”
NEFAC is the region’s leading advocate for the First Amendment and the public’s right to know about government. The coalition regularly drafts and joins advocacy letters in cases involving First Amendment freedoms and the public’s right to know about government. All coalition briefs, letters and statements can be found here.
NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.
Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.
Leadership Circle donors include the Rhode Island Foundation, Hearst Connecticut Media Group, The Boston Globe, Paul and Ann Sagan, and the Robertson Foundation. Major Supporters include Boston University, the Academy of New England Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists Foundation, Genie Gannett for the First Amendment Museum, Linda Pizzuti Henry, the Champa Charitable Foundation Fund, Connecticut Public and GBH-Boston.