Counties Offer Qualified Approval for Remote Public Access to Court Proceedings

On January 24, 2023, Associate Policy Director Sarah Sample testified before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in support of SB 0043 – Courts – Remote Public Access with amendments.

This bill requires every court in the State to provide remote audio-visual access to public court proceedings, unless a proceeding is deemed closed, confidential, or restricted by law. It would also permit the presiding judge to prohibit these broadcasts, provided there is no overriding public interest involved. The Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) fully recognizes that the increased transparency and accountability called for in SB 0043 stands to strengthen the State’s court system. As written however, the bill lays the costs of implementing the required technology squarely on county government. To ensure the intent of SB 0043 is successfully realized, MACo urges the General Assembly to consider language tying funding to the state budget.

From the MACo Testimony:

Circuit Courts are fully funded by county governments but operated by the State, with only a finite number of expenses eligible for reimbursement from State funding. The required infrastructure to facilitate simultaneous audio-visual remote public access under SB 43 is expensive and difficult to install generally but especially in buildings with historic designations, like many of our Circuit Court locations. Storage capacity for the footage is an added cost not addressed in this legislation but a predictable byproduct as the recordings are likely subject to regulations regarding document retention and audit compliance.

More on MACo’s Advocacy:

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