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Reporters Committee, Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association urge federal courts to resolve access issues to election proceedings

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  1. Court Access

Update (Nov. 19, 2020): On Nov. 19, Judge Matthew W. Brann of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania ordered the release of audio recording of oral arguments conducted on Nov. 17 in Donald J. Trump for President v. Boockvar. The audio recording of the hearing has been posted to the district court’s website.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association are urging federal court officials to quickly resolve issues that made it difficult for members of the press and public to access a high-profile hearing on Tuesday concerning the Trump campaign’s challenge to Pennsylvania’s election results.

In a Nov. 18 letter to the director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the two organizations said the court system failed to provide meaningful access to oral arguments in Donald J. Trump for President v. Boockvar, a case currently in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The letter noted that two teleconference lines failed during the hearing, causing a significant delay.

Even after access was restored, problems continued. At times, the letter said, the voices of attorneys participating in the hearing were almost impossible to hear.

“To ensure greater public understanding of events as they transpire, we respectfully ask the Administrative Office that the temporary exception on the use of teleconference access be extended to audio streaming of district court proceedings,” the letter stated. “While telephonic access is a good start, a high demand proceeding of this nature needs additional technical guidance from the AO to ensure minimal disruptions to press or public access.”