"A little bird told me." It's an oldie, but it has new life
in the UK, particularly in the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom today published guidance
on its practice relating to the use of "live text based communications"
(i.e. Tweeting), green lighting public communications concerning courtroom
events. In issuing the guidance, the Justices noted that cases before the
Supreme Court do not involve interaction with witnesses or jurors and that
there is rarely any reason why what is said in court should not be placed
immediately in the public domain.
Lord Phillips, President of the Supreme Court, noted that communications
technology is beneficial in that regular updates can be shared with people
outside the court, in real time. This, in turn, enhances public interest in the
progress of a case and keeps those who are interested better informed.
"We are fortunate,"
Lord Phillips said, "that by the time a case reaches the Supreme Court there is
very seldom any reason for any degree of confidentiality, so that questions
about what should and should not be shared with those outside the courtroom do
not usually arise. This means that we can offer a green light to tweeting and
other forms of communication, as long as this does not disrupt the smooth running
of the court."
There are exceptions. Tweeting will be prohibited in cases
where formal reporting restrictions are in place, where a child's welfare is involved,
and where publications might prejudice a pending jury trial. In these events, posted
notices will inform attendees of the restrictions.
This guidance is restricted to the Supreme Court because of
its unique role as the highest appellate court. In other courts, different
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