The D.C. Court of Appeals is moving on up—in its use of technology.


For the first time in its history, the court will allow a live video stream of its proceedings during oral arguments on June 17.

“We are very pleased to utilize existing technology which will for the first time enable DC residents, and in fact, anyone on the Internet, to observe the DC Court of Appeals, sitting as a full or en banc court, in action,” Chief Judge Eric T. Washington said in a statement.

Court spokeswoman Leah Gurowitz said the pilot project is an extension of the technological upgrades the court has made in recent years.

“The D.C. Courts are constantly working to increase access to justice, as well as public awareness about the services available at the courts and the work we do here,” she told the AFRO. “Several years ago the D.C. Court of Appeals began audio-streaming arguments, so that members of the public court hear oral arguments before D.C.’s highest court.”

En banc sittings of the court—those in which all the judges, not just a panel of three judges, hear a case—are rare, occurring only a few times a year, Gurowitz said. Usually, she added, they occur when the case “presents an issue of major importance.”

“The case being argued next week is such a case and thus Chief Judge Washington decided to utilize newly-available technology to have not just the audio, but video of the argument available real-time to the public,” the spokeswoman added.

The appeals court will hear a motion to repeal a trial court’s decision to change the permanency goals for several children in foster care from reunification with their biological parents to adoption. The motion will also challenge whether the judge gave due consideration to the adoption petition of the biological parents’ preferred caregiver (over the foster, now adoptive, parents).


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO