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NYCLU Secures Public Access to Supreme Court Virtual Court Proceedings

NEW YORK – Following the threat of a lawsuit from the New York Civil Liberties Union, the Office of Court Administration (OCA) announced that it will launch a new request portal to provide public access to all Supreme Court virtual civil court proceedings. This will bring much-needed and long-overdue transparency for journalists and the general public.

“Public access to court proceedings is critical because it keeps the judicial system accountable and ensures that journalists can keep New Yorkers informed,” said NYCLU Staff Attorney Veronica Salama. “New York is finally following in the footsteps of other states but there are gaps in the OCA’s planned implementation. The NYCLU is working alongside the OCA to ensure it expands this virtual access to more courts across the state.”

Before the pandemic, members of the public could simply walk into a courtroom and observe a proceeding in person. In the new normal of virtual court proceedings, however, New York has lagged behind state courts across the country and the federal court system in creating virtual mechanisms to provide public access. Many states do not require the public to request access through a portal and instead proactively provide links. While this decision is a first step in bringing New York in line with the rest of the country, it is the OCA’s constitutional and statutory responsibility to expand this access to all New York State Courts — not just civil proceedings in Supreme Court.

“The pandemic shift to virtual proceedings provides a historic opportunity to expand public engagement with New York’s court system,” said NYCLU Legal Director Christopher Dunn. “Anyone with a computer can now observe court proceedings and OCA must make sure virtual access is as simple as possible.”

The NYCLU, which both sent a demand letter to the OCA and provided testimony at an October 31 hearing on the matter, will continue to push for universal access to virtual court proceedings and will monitor any difficulties in accessing these live streams through

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