Iowa Judge Allows Live Blogging In Courtroom

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This is bigger than you think.

U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett of Sioux City, Iowa, is a tech-savvy judge in a district with high-tech courtrooms. When he was a practicing lawyer in a small law firm, Bennett was willing to pay an “outrageously expensive” amount to make his office possibly the first in the state to have desktop computers. He believes he was probably the first federal judge to have an e-mail address. And he reads blogs on a daily basis, such as Sentencing Law and Policy Blog.

So Bennett was favorably inclined when a reporter for the Cedar Rapids Gazette e-mailed him to ask if she could use a laptop computer to cover the tax fraud trial of a local landlord by posting live courtroom updates. Bennett took a few days to think it over, and responded that he would allow it, provided that the reporter, Trish Mehaffey, sat farther back in the courtroom where her typing would not be a distraction.

“I thought the public’s right to know what goes on in federal court and the transparency that would be given the proceedings by live-blogging outweighed any potential prejudice to the defendant,” Bennett told the ABA Journal.

Read the rest at the ABA Journal blog.

Seriously, this is big. It’s going to be interesting to see who follows this precedent.

And who doesn’t.

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