Michigan attorney seeking public access to court proceeding videos

When courts refuse transparency as being called for below, taxpayers should question why publically-funded venues resist transparency:

3/24/12 – A Howell attorney is asking the presiding judge of Livingston County’s circuit, district and probate court systems that video recordings of court proceedings be made available to the public. Tom Kizer of the Kizer Law Firm in Howell sent a letter on Thursday to 44th Circuit Court Judge David Reader. In it, Kizer asks that a committee be appointed to create a policy that would allow what Kizer calls the “efficient and effective dissemination of video recordings of public court proceedings” for use by the public. In writing the letter, Kizer was acting in response to Reader’s letter Monday to state Court Administrator Chad Schmucker objecting to the Michigan Supreme Court mandate that local courts furnish copies of video recordings to the public, except in rare instances. Reader said the mandate opens local courts to the potential for abuses by way of manipulating the recordings and posting them on the Internet or elsewhere. Reader also said that making such recordings available to the public poses a security threat to both judges and attorneys, and undermines the integrity of the court system. Kizer disagrees, and tells WHMI that what he regards as the minimal potential for abuses is trumped by the issue of transparency. Kizer tells WHMI that making videos of actual court proceeding accessible to the public would also serve to “weed out bad judges” by opening them to public scrutiny. Kizer is asking that Reader create a committee composed of retired, former Livingston County chief judge Stanley Latreille, Prosecutor David Morse and other county government officials and the local news media. Kizer says he would be willing to serve on such a committee, which would formulate a policy for the release of video recordings. Reader, in his letter to the state court administrator, said Livingston County does allow attorneys and litigants to view such recordings, but not to have actual copies of the videos. He said those who request it may get a certified, written transcript of the proceedings. Judge Reader did not immediately respond to WHMI’s request for comment on Kizer’s letter or on Reader’s request to the state court administrator. (TT)


Judge Reader Asked To Open Court Videos to Public
March 24, 2012
WHMI-FM 93-5