Listening to Your Voice
A few weeks ago we asked our regular viewers to tell us why they tuned in to watch OpenCourt, what they learned from watching and what we could do in the future. We heard from people from all over the country and world who watch OpenCourt on a regular basis.
To see the daily workings of a busy district court has taught some about the U.S. judicial system and shown them a side of society normally hidden from view, while it has helped others to bolster their political views, to witness how the mountains of paperwork gum up the system, to learn tips on how to get out of traffic tickets, and even to find a new direction in life.
Here’s what we heard from them.
Why do you watch?
Dan from New Hampshire
I watch because I’m interested in seeing a fairly local court in operation. I don’t have time to go down to my town courthouse, so this is as close as I’m going to get. In addition, I feel like I’ve gotten to know a cast ranging from the judges to the DA and public defender team. I have my favorites, and I have my not so favorites.
For stushef, OpenCourt is better – or at least more realistic – than all the cops and court shows on TV.
I have watched CourtTV on cable — their coverage and methods are great, but they tend to follow extreme cases.
Police TV shows rarely show the Judicial results of crimes — LA Law the exception.
Open Court shows the daily grind of the court system and court administration — something NEVER shown anywhere else.
Several people cited their own nosiness or voyeurism for why they watch, the same reason that people read the crime pages in the newspaper. Jason from Indianapolis, Indiana called watching a “guilty pleasure” and Charlie from Marshfield, Massachusetts said, “I watch Open Court because I am interested in the system and I guess you could say a voyuer.”
Local listener Michele of Green Harbor, Massachusetts, who listens in the background as she works, likes to know what her neighbors are up to.
OpenCourt is also a resource for people who work for the court system. Gerda of Massachusetts is a certified court interpreter. She says OpenCourt is “a great tool to practice techniques and acquire vocabulary for us.”
Denis also works for a court, in Moscow, Russia. He uses OpenCourt to educate himself about the U.S. justice system.
I work as judge assistant in Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, so i found OpenCourt livestream very helpful for me as a person of legal profession to understand some specificity of common law system.
What have you learned watching OpenCourt?
Jason from Indianapolis, Indiana is an A+ student as far as OpenCourt goes.
While high school and college offer the foundation for an understanding of the Bill of Rights and the justice system, most people never see the court system in action. I am constantly amazed by the number of cases the Court hears on any given day. Through the OpenCourt project, I have been able to garner a better understanding of arraignments and the inner-workings of a district court. By offering this via the internet, it allows people from all socioeconomic backgrounds to learn about the criminal justice system right from their homes and at their convenience.
Dan from New Hampshire has also been picking out patterns from the huge bulk of proceedings.
I learned a lot about bail, arraignments, and sentencing. I learned about probation triggers, and I got to recognize a pattern among all of the perpetrators. The vast majority of every criminal case that goes through those doors has had some substance abuse impact.
I have a higher view of the justice system than I did before. I really think the judges in that court room are on the forefront of their fields, are extremely fair, and have done an incredible job with the issues presented. Locally anyways.
Michele of Green Harbor, Massachusetts was also impressed with the judges, and moved by the weekly drug court.
Charlie from Marshfield, Massachusetts sees the opposite side of the coin as far as the role of the court. He believes law-breakers have to take responsibility for their actions.
I have felt by reading the court news in the newspapers that the punishment is not strict enough. How many times must a person be arrested for the same thing, i.e. DUI, Driving uninsured, driving with a suspended license, before they get it? The fines/punishment need to be increased. I feel my opinions have been strengthened. No one wants to take responsibility for their actions. As a general statement I think the court looks on them as victims and asks how can we help these poor souls who haven’t had a chance.
Stacy of Coral Gables, Florida likes seeing the DA’s and the defense attorneys arguing each side, often on short notice.
What would you change about the judicial system?
One word: paperwork.
Dan from New Hampshire
I think that decreasing the paperwork would be very helpful. It seems like a lot of the day is spent trying to find papers and waiting for papers to be sent. The court doesn’t seem as modern as it could be.
Michele of Green Harbor, Massachusetts
What more would you like to see from OpenCourt?
Jason from Indianapolis, Indiana would love to follow along as cases move upstairs into the pre-trial conferences and trials.
Also, it would be very interesting to see some of the trials that go on every day. Most people have seen high publicity criminal trials televised, but I am unaware of anyone who regularly shows district court trials. This additional coverage would further assist individuals who know relatively little about local civil or criminal trials.
Stacy of Coral Gables, Florida agrees.
She also has the most surprising answer for how OpenCourt has affected her.
We’d love to be able to expand out of the First Session, which is mostly arraignments, and be able to livestream the entire judicial process, from arraignments to pre-trial conferences to trials. Stay tuned!