News Groups Seek Access to Election-Related Legal Challenges

A person holding a mail-in ballot
(Image credit: EyeWolf via Getty Images)

Electronic and print news outlets have joined with Fix the Court 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 stems from technical issues with 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."

They offered some suggestions to avoid a repeat of those issues for the existing and expected legal challenges surrounding the election. "There are dozens of election lawsuits making their way through district and appeals courts at this very moment, and the American people have a keen interest in how these cases are being argued and how they are being decided," they told Duff.

1. Allow district courts to use YouTube channels, which most circuits have created for audio appeals during the pandemic.

2. Work with the local media outlets to create a pool feed of the arguments.

3. Tweet, send a press release, and or post on the court home page if there are delays and technical issues

Joining in the letter were the Radio Television Digital News Association, the National Press Photographers Association, the News Media Alliance, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the Society of Professional Journalists.

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.