On January 24, 2023, Associate Policy Director Sarah Sample submitted testimony to the House Judiciary Committee in support of HB 0133 – Court Proceedings – Remote Public Access and Participation with amendments.
The bill would obligate each Maryland Court to provide remote audio-visual access to all public court proceedings, while granting the presiding judge leeway to prohibit any portion of these proceedings as circumstances demand. The Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) certainly appreciates that greater accessibility and transparency in court proceedings is of enormous benefit to the public. In its current form however, HB 0133 lays the costs associated with implementing the required technology on county government. To ensure the intent of HB 0133 is successfully realized, MACo urges the General Assembly to consider language tying funding to the state budget.
From the MACo Testimony:
MACo agrees that the potential to create greater ease of access and transparency in court proceedings would have a public benefit. These updates certainly stand to offset cost and stress for low-income individuals who are more likely to experience resource scarcity. The added layer of transparency
would fortify the purpose and principle of a foundational institution. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for bringing this pathway forward into focus from a technological standpoint. There are more resources available and a greater understanding of what is possible, but it is not without substantial cost to county governments as much of the required technology is state-of-the-art due to the acceleration of the industry since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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