In this screenshot from the Alaska Court System, the participants in the legislative eligibility trial of Rep. David Eastman are seen on Dec. 21, 2022. The court system is considering permanent rules for streaming hearings and trials. (Screenshot)
The Alaska Court System is planning to continue video streaming many court hearings online despite the end of the COVID-19 emergency that prompted the first broadcasts.
Alaska’s constitution requires public access to trials, and the court system’s streaming program began during the COVID-19 emergency as a way to allow hearings when members of the public were barred from attending in person.
“As we decide what pandemic-related practices were beneficial and should be continued, the court is interested in livestreaming some proceedings, even though courtrooms are open for public observation,” the court system said.
The proposed court rule allows the presiding judge to determine whether the case is important enough to merit online streaming.
Cases that meet the importance standard include most felony criminal trials, proceedings that “involve important matters of health or safety, important matters relating to environmental, economic, or community wellbeing; and governmental matters including elections and redistricting.”
Confidential hearings would be exempt from streaming, as would cases about minors, unless those minors are being charged as adults.
Also blocked from streaming is “evidence that depicts graphic images including the bodies of deceased victims, or wounds or injuries.”
The court system would be responsible for streaming cases live from its website, and streams would not be recorded or available after the court date.
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