Fix the Court Awaiting Answer On Trump Lawsuit Access

Supreme Court building
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Fix the Court, the group that advocates for more transparency in legal proceedings, has yet to get a definitive answer from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts on whether and how it plans to provide access to election-related legal challenges, though the office signaled it remained committed to openness.

President Trump has yet to concede the election to Democrat Joe Biden, who has been proclaimed the winner by the vast majority of news outlets after ballot counts showed him securing more than enough votes to secure the requisite 270 electoral votes. Instead he promised to launch a new round of legal challenges Monday (Nov. 9).

Fix the Court joined with news outlets last week to ask  James Duff, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and the executives running the 13 federal circuits to ensure there is live, unfettered public access to any court hearing and judges' ruling related to the election.

That stemmed from technical issues with access to the Texas court decision Monday (Nov. 2) rejecting a Trump campaign attempt to invalidate drive-in-dropbox ballots. The phone line set up to provide access to that hearing malfunctioned and dropped everyone, said the outlets in a letter to Duff Tuesday (Nov. 3), after which only some outlets were allowed to get back on, and even then the audio quality was so bad, compounded by the fact that the reporters' lines were not muted, that it made it "almost impossible to understand."

According to Fix the Court, at press time it had only received the following e-mail (last Wednesday, Nov. 4) from the Administrative Office public affairs office: "Thank you for sharing the letter from the media groups about access to election-related hearings. We will respond shortly. This is an important matter and the AO and the courts remain firmly committed to providing public access to court hearings." The group signaled that didn't cut it.

According to a source members of the House Judiciary Committee have also reached out to the Administrative Office to express their "consternation" at the lack of broadcast access, particularly after the Texas snafu.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.