Mass. Court OKs Live, Unedited Court Proceedings

The highest court in Massachusetts has rejected two challenges to a pilot project that continuously streams live, unedited court proceedings from one of the busiest courtrooms in Massachusetts.

The OpenCourt project, run by WBUR, began in May with cameras recording and streaming live over the Internet from Quincy District Court.

Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey challenged a decision to allow the posting of a recording of a criminal dangerousness hearing to a public online archive. A suspect also appealed an order permitting the broadcasting of his arraignment and a motion hearing in his case.

Morrissey says he's pleased with the court’s decision to set up guidelines for the operation of the OpenCourt project.

“I’m sorry that it took a child rape victim in a dangerousness hearing and something of that nature for us to finally get before the court to have them put in place, or suggest that they put in place, rules and regulations that govern the conduct of television,” Morrissey said.

John Davidow, an executive editor for WBUR, says the privacy of that minor was never in question.

“The commonwealth was basically trying to sanction us before we violated the privacy of that particular victim,” Davidow said. “OpenCourt never had the intention of violating the privacy of the victim of that crime.”

The Supreme Judicial Court found that any order restricting OpenCourt’s ability to stream courtroom proceedings live represents a form of prior restraint on the constitutional freedoms of the press and speech.

The Associated Press and WBUR Newsroom contributed to this report.

This article was originally published on March 14, 2012.


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