Circuit Courts’ Oral Argument Recordings Available Online

Many courts are taking advantage of technology by posting the recordings of oral arguments online. The United States Supreme Court is a perfect example. To access transcripts as well as the audio recordings of arguments heard by the Court, visit SCOTUSBlog. Under Quick Links in the upper right hand corner of the screen hover over the Merits Cases link to see a list of Court’s terms. By clicking, for example, the October Term 2012 a list of cases sorted by case name displays including live links to transcript, audio recording of oral argument, docket, the case page, and the Court’s opinion for each listed case.

Similarly, Circuit Courts are making their oral argument recordings available online at their respective websites.

Circuit Courts making oral arguments recordings available online

First Circuit – it appears that the best way to access recordings of oral arguments heard by the First Circuit is to subscribe to its RSS feed. Until recently, electronic versions of the Court’s opinions were available only through e-mail with an opinion attached. The Court is strongly encouraging current or future subscribers to subscribe via RSS feed which allows users to search, sort, and filter information.

Third Circuit – Third Circuit offers the ability to see all oral argument files, oral argument files within last 30 days, oral arguments files within the last 7 days, and the ability to subscribe to new oral argument files via RSS feed.

Fourth CircuitFourth Circuit oral argument audio files in MP3 format are posted on the court’s site two days following argument effective with the May 2011 argument session. Audio files for argument sessions prior to 2012 are available here, which includes cases argued during the May-December 2011 term. For cases argued before May 2011, CDs of oral argument recordings may be requested from the clerk’s office using the Oral Argument CD Request form. New links to oral argument audio files are released via RSS and Email leaving it up to the user to either subscribe via RSS or via email.

Fifth CircuitFifth Circuit Oral Argument Recordings Page contains oral argument recordings released from May 21, 2008 to present. Access the latest oral argument recordings released, oral argument recordings released in the last 7 days, oral argument recordings released in the last month, or search for oral argument recording by date range, docket number, text contained in title, and/or firs and last name of an attorney.

Sixth CircuitSixth Circuit websites provides access to oral arguments in MP3 format but it fails to indicate how far back the collection dates. Users may access recent hearings or search for oral argument hearing.

Seventh Circuit – Seventh Circuit provides access to oral argument recordings dating back to 2000. Users may search for past oral argument recordings by year and/or number. Typing in last two digits of a year displays all available oral argument recordings for that year. Users may also view today’s, past week, or past month oral arguments. You may subscribe to any new oral argument recordings via RSS feed.

Eighth Circuit – Eighth Circuit provides access to oral arguments in MP3 format. Oral Arguments can be searched by case number, party/attorney, attorney who argued, or browsed by the court’s session. The oldest available oral argument is from January 2000 session of the court.

Ninth Circuit – Ninth Circuit offers audio and video (where applicable) the oral arguments it hears. Recordings appear on its site by 12:00 PM PT the day after argument. Users may browse the recordings or search them by type of recording, case name, case number, case panel, hearing location, or hearing date.

D.C. Circuit – D.C. Circuit provides access to its oral argument recordings archive page where users may browse the recordings by oral argument date, or sort the recordings by today, this week, last week, this month, and last month sorting option. The archive page includes oral argument recordings starting in January 2007. Users may subscribe to new recordings via the court’s RSS feed.

Federal Circuit – Federal Circuit provides access to oral argument recordings in MP3 format on its oral argument page. The most recent oral arguments heard by the court are displayed by default. Users can search for oral arguments by case name, appeal number, or argument date. Search by the year only displays all available oral argument recordings for that year. Recordings of oral arguments are available starting in January 2006. Users may also subscribe to any new recordings via the court’s designated RSS feed.

Circuit Courts not making oral arguments recordings available online

The Second, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuit Courts are the last three circuit courts not providing access to oral argument recordings yet while the rest provide audio and an efficient way to stay updated about new arguments, and in some instances even video recordings. Perhaps it is time to catch up?

What are your thoughts? How important (if at all) are recordings of oral arguments in research or preparation for court hearings?

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