Have you wondered if there is public access to court hearings and its data are considered public records? If so, the answer is yes.
Because of the Information of Freedom Act that was signed into power in 1966 by President Lydon B Johnson, we do have access to these types of court hearings. Without public access to court hearings and records, we wouldn’t be able to learn and look back at what happens within these types of hearings.
Freedom of Information Act
What is the Freedom of Information Act and how does it affect you in regards to viewing public records data? Like we said earlier this act was formed in 1966 by then President Lydon B Johnson. The Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 is a law that requires when requested to disclose either full or partial documents or Infomation that is controlled by the United States Government.
Generally speaking any United States citizen, organization, or foreign national can make a Freedom of Information Act request. All executive branch departments and agencies are subject to the request of FOIA. However, this law does not apply to those of federal courts, the president, immediate staff, Congress, and the vice president.
If you are interested in seeing president records the Presidental Records Act of 1978 will allow records from the president through the FOIA five to twelve years after the president exits the White House.
Agencies are required to automatically make some types of information available, without an FOIA request. The government doesn’t have a central location for handling FOIA requests; instead, each agency manages and responds to its own requests.
Court proceedings are typically open to the public
Typically in the United States, anyone can sit in on a court hearing as long as there are seats available. However, not all court hearings are open. Take for example Juvenile hearings. Because of the age of the person, these are typically not open to the public. Even accessing these records after the fact online or in person would not be possible for just anyone.
Same holds true for certain trials. If the government feels like opening up a trial to the public could cause harm to jury members or witnesses these could be closed and not accessible to the general public.
Court Records are public records, for the most part
Court records are usually open to the public meaning anyone can search and view these types of records. Accessing these types of records can be done online or in person by visiting the County Clerk of Courts. The clerk is responsible for gathering and documenting court records so they can be stored properly and then recalled for future use by either official members of the courts or by the general public when called upon.
Are Supreme Court hearings public?
Yes, you can attend a Supreme Court Oral Argument. You can also visit the Supreme Court courtroom for lectures as well, cases are also open to the public. Oral Arguments which are 1 hour in length allow you to sit in and watch each side argue for 30 minutes before the court. Learn how to access Supreme court records online.
There are two ways to view a Supreme Court hearing:
- Secure a seat: This method will allow you to stand in line waiting to get a seat. If it’s a high-profile case some people wait for days in line. However, in normal court cases, people arrive around 6 am to ensure that they are one of the 50 people or so that can see the entire session.
- Walk Through: People can also do walkthroughs that allow them to rotate through every few minutes. So, you can stay and watch for a few minutes then you must move to allow others to view for a few minutes. You can get back in line as many times as you like.
Bench Mondays at the Supreme Court
Mondays at 10 am, from mid-May through June you can hear court opinions and decisions. These only run about 20 min long but it is a way to view Supreme Court hearings.
Here is an Argument Calendar that you can see what cases are coming up.
Open: Weekdays: 9 am to 4:30 pm
Web: Supreme Court
Public access to court hearings can be obtained by almost anyone
Almost anyone can have public access to court hearings around the United States. This information pertained within court hearings is typically public in nature. However, some records are not as stated above. Even court hearings at the highest level of the Supreme Court can be heard and viewed. Same holds true for civil court hearings.
This data is also open the public and can contain valuable information about someones past. Thanks to the FOIA public records data is something that almost anyone has access to and it helps in not only hiring decisions around our country but also for regular people looking to gain knowledge on someone within their life.