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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Cameras in Court

I have to admit I had the standard journalist knee-jerk reaction the other day when I read that the California Supreme Court was going to allow telecasts of its proceedings.

I thought this was great. Public proceedings will actually get to be seen by the public. This is how democracy is supposed to work.

It's hard to stop miscarriages of justice and/or abuses of power if you never seem them.

But then along came a lawsuit last week that made me wonder.

Was the reason for this sudden openness really a victory for us nosy journalistic types or was there some other motivation?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Either way, there could be a significant benefit for the court system - i.e. money, the great motivator.

The lawsuit, of course, was the one filed on behalf of the successor-in-interest to the talent agency that packaged the "Judge Judy" television series. The thing that popped out at me was the plaintiff's claim that the program has grossed more than $1.7 billion.

It's made all that money and the show consists of a snippy judge hearing a couple of very quick small-claims cases in less than half an hour.

That kind of money could have built at least one or two courthouses and it's money that's being siphoned away from real courts by a fake TV court.

So maybe, just maybe, the state Supreme Court caught wind of this gravy train (or gravy court) and is aiming for a piece of the action.

All they need are strict limits on oral arguments - a half-hour minus commercial time - and a willingness to make instant rulings.

If possible, someone should be dragged away in handcuffs at least once a week.

The court's budget problems will be over.

Intelligence test? Some exams are trick questions.

The following is from an employment suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last week against a for-profit prison company:

"In June or July, 2013, all supervisory staff were notified via email that chemical agents (pepper spray) had been approved for use and that all sergeants and lieutenants would have to go through training for its use.... Training consisted of direct spray to the face of 10% concentration from six inches away. Afterward the trainee was required to punch a punching bag several times and then cuff an officer standing by before being decontaminated."

I'm guessing you pass if you figure out that you shouldn't pepper-spray yourself.

Sweet Emoji. One of the court system's budget problems is the enormous amount of paper and time wasted by verbose lawyers.

Form complaints have helped a bit, but they're not mandatory and there are still too many words giving headaches (or in my case, amusement) to anyone reading them.

But, as I promised last week, I have a solution.

It's a solution that not only provides concise, compact communication but also should come naturally to tech-savvy young lawyers starting their careers.

The answer is: emojis.

Yes, I have examples. To wit:

I could go on and on. Try creating your own - it's fun.

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