The SJC announced to today that it will keep its oral arguments posted on its web site for two weeks after the date of the argument. This is good news – we here at the Maine Appeals blogosphere (by that I mean me) have long articulated our yearning for this development.
Another interesting aspect of the SJC web site this month is connected with the fact that it's October, and thus time for the Court's annual Tour O'Maine, where they ride the circuit to various high schools, bringing arguments to the people. Because teachers often use these appeals in their classes, this month, the briefs for the cases being argued are posted on line. Check it out. http://www.courts.state.me.us/maine_courts/supreme/oral_arguments.shtml
I'm told this is a one-shot deal, with no more brief posting after this month. But why not keep it up? By rule, the Court is now encouraging the sending of briefs to it by email. Why not make it mandatory (except for pro se parties) and post those briefs? That way, there would be no need to provide any summaries of the oral arguments (except maybe a one-liner like "foreclosure action" or "breach of contract"). The briefs are always accessible at Cleaves. Why not make them accessible on line?
I suppose there could be some privacy issues – but again, these briefs are accessible if you schlep down to the court house or library. Of course it costs $$ to use PACER in the federal system to obtain the equivalent (or more to download briefs on Westlaw etc). But why shouldn't public document access be free if it doesn't cost the government anything to provide it? This, I know, is a big if. I don't know what having the briefs always available on line at argument time would entail. PACER costs money because Congress told the Judiciary it wasn't getting any funding to provice electronic public access, so that system has to be self-funded.
In the meantime, I suppose you will just need to stay tuned here for important developments in Maine law.