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Courts Starting to Embrace Twitter for Distribution of Opinions, News

There has been a decent amount written about jurors' use of Twitter in courts, and also about whether journalists should be allowed to report from the courtroom using Twitter. I have seen much less, however, about the use of Twitter by courts themselves.

Earlier this week, David Bilinsky wrote at Slaw that the Courts of Nova Scotia have recently become the first courts in Canada to tweet "news and information about the Courts, decisions of the Courts, and notices to the Bar. ..." The Courts of Nova Scotia website now offers a series of specialized Twitter feeds to allow users to receive the specific information they want, i.e., separate feeds for decisions of different courts, notices issued to the Bar, and so on.

For some reason, the Nova Scotia courts found it necessary to end their "outdated" RSS feeds that also provide this type information when they rolled out the new Twitter feeds. As several commenters on the Slaw post note, killing off the RSS feeds seems unnecessary:

Not sure of the logic with this move. As [Slaw's Simon Fodden] points out, creating Twitter posts from RSS content on the other hand has always been quite easy, and a number of services (Twitterfeed, Hootsuite) allow this. Why wouldn't the Nova Scotia Courts simply leverage existing RSS feeds into these new Twitter profiles? Seriously, does anyone know why the move at the cost of RSS? I think it's great to have the Twitter option, don't get me wrong, but I'm stumped why both could not be sustained.

For those seeking additional information on Twitter concerning Canadian law, Fodden has also created a number of Twitter feeds to allow ready access to Supreme Court of Canada decisions and court of appeal decisions for many Canadian provinces. 

My quick research as to state courts' use of Twitter in the U.S. indicated that many states are already using Twitter for various purposes, including:

On the federal level, the U.S. Supreme Court is using Twitter to distribute opinions, as is the 9th Circuit and courts such as the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. I could not find a comprehensive guide to "courts on Twitter" but it seems likely that one exists out there somewhere. If you know of such a guide, please shoot me a link to it and I'll update this post.

Posted by Bruce Carton on March 2, 2012 at 04:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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