Maryland court to webcast trials

Annapolis (MD) - Maryland's Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, is putting into place plans to Webcast live sessions of the court, throwing its hat into the ring of a handful of other states that have a similar online outreach.

The Maryland court is pushing things quickly in order to be able to Webcast a high-profile same-sex marriage case, which begins on December 4. The current plan is to have the Webcasts go live starting this Thursday.

"It's all part of this outreach thing. Other courts have done it. I don't see why we shouldn't do it," said Maryland Chief Judge Robert M. Bell in an interview with the Baltimore Sun newspaper.

Most of the structured proceedings aren't exactly like Law & Order or even Judge Judy, but nevertheless there is a level of interest such that nearly half of the states have some sort of public viewing access to the courts. New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Ohio are among the states that broadcast live sessions of their state Supreme Court online.

Cases that get the most attention will be those that are high-profile, and having an always-on Webcast will certainly help to ensure uninterrupted viewing during these cases - which could draw millions of out-of-state and out-of-country viewers. According to the Associated Press, 50 million people tuned in to sources to watch at least parts of the 2000 Florida election court case.