Civil Beat is reporting that Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway is allowing them to live-blog during the Aloun Farms trial, which starts Wednesday.  In the Aloun Farms case the prosecution accuses the owners of the Farms of keeping numerous Thai immigrants as indentured servants.  The case is one of two major human-trafficking cases this year in Hawaii.
Judge Mollway stated that this is not a change in court policy and only applies to this case.  However, if Civil Beat lives up to its name and reputation (for investigative and good journalistic practices) it may lead a step toward live-blogging and other social media use in the courtroom by convincing other judges that this is a good thing for justice.  More exposure plus utilizing a form of communication that has been widely adopted for business and social purposes puts the spotlight on the justice system, which needs to correct the information gap that exists in society.

I will temper my foregoing enthusiasm with the following comment:  information technology is a good thing to share information with society as a whole, the justice system should not be driven to open the floodgates and allow all manner of social media to be used in court.  For example, allowing jurors to Tweet and Facebook post is still a very bad thing.   However, transparency and informative acts via social media that maintain and that do not dilute the fairness of trial should always be welcomed.

So way to go Civil Beat and great decision Judge Mollway.

For Civil Beat’s article and their letter requesting social media access click here.

1 reply
  1. Marcus
    Marcus says:

    I’m split on the “live-blog” idea of Civil Beat. I like the fact that it’s allowed, and I appreciate the enthusiasm. I’m not sure I like the idea that, after the first two days, it seems like I have to register and “sign up” for a trial period with their website to read the news.
    What’s anathema to me is naming a juror, even a dismissed juror. That’s disgusting to me, even in passing. The lawyers, we ask for this. We accept money to be in a courtroom, and sometimes take ugly positions. The jurors don’t. They’re assigned to a courtroom, told they have to do a duty to their country for a few dollars a day. The whole point of a jury trial is that a small group of focused people may need to make an unpopular correct decision, as opposed to a popular uninformed one. See: Casey Anthony, quite frankly.

    As soon as jurors feel they could be “outed” for unpopular opinions then we run a risk (a strong risk) that jurors will be more worried about what could happen after a trial and therefore we no longer have a jury system worth its salt.

    My understanding is Civil Beat may have addressed my concern, but as I do not have a subscription, trial or otherwise, I have not seen their response…


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