A recent Tennessee Supreme Court rule change that will make oral arguments from all of the state’s appeals courts available online has delivered a shock to some appeals court judges and family law attorneys, reports the Tennessean. Under current rules, oral arguments from the Court of Appeals, the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Supreme Court are available by request and for a nominal fee — usually about $20. But in a little-noticed policy change in the name of “transparency and openness of the courts” expected to take effect this spring, digital recordings of all oral arguments in appeals courts will be available online at no cost.
The action has led some, including Appeals Court Judge Frank Clement, to voice concern that it could complicate the lives of children whose parents are going through messy divorces, not to mention “cast a dark cloud” over the parents themselves, according to a letter Clement recently wrote to the high court. “I’m very concerned about Internet bullying, harassing and abuse,” Clement said. “This is not about the courts keeping secrets. It’s about preventing children from being abused and bullied.” A Tennessee Supreme Court spokeswoman said the court is devising a way to “mitigate possible abuse.”