Article

Visible justice: YouTube and the UK Supreme Court

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Abstract

The purpose of the article is to undertake a critical examination of a new audiovisual form of judicial communicati on developed by the UK Supreme Court. An audiovisual recording of the judge delivering a summary of the judgment now accompanies the publication of the full written judgment and a two page “ press summary ” of the judgment. The summary judgment video is avai lable for viewing on demand and at a distance via The Internet. The article begins by introducing the audiovisual data that makes up the video case study at the centre of this study and outlines the methods used to undertake the subsequent analysis. It is followed by a review of a number of fields of scholarship and debates that the study of these videos engages with: about cameras in courts; transparency and open justice; and news media representations of courts. A consideration of these literatures provid es an opportunity to identify and consider how this study helps to make sense of the Court’s video initiative. It also provides an opportunity to consider the contribution that this study can make to those areas of work. An analysis of the case study video s follows, beginning with a consideration of the representations of the court, the judge and judgment that are to be found in those videos. Attention then turns to study the some of the cultural assumptions and institutional factors that shape the visibili ty of judgment that the videos are generating. The paper ends with some reflections and conclusions about the nature of this visibility and the contribution that the summary judgment videos make to “ open justice ” and the “ transparency ” of the court; in par ticular the judiciary and judicial decision - making .

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... The work of Clover (1998) and Moran (2016) reminds us that framing and camera angles have important implications for how the camera presents the judge, as well as how it positions the viewer in relation to the judge. We found that the way that the framing and angles are used in court video links often creates views of courtroom participants, including the judge, that are different to those available in the courtroom. ...
... This new advertence to the ways in which the judge's image is being constructed through camera and screen requires the attention more commonly associated with film production (Mulcahy, 2008). Courts should pay attention, as film directors do, to the background to the subject, the costume of the subject, the presence or absence of symbolic markers of justice (such as the coat of arms), as well as the impact of camera angles, close-ups or long-shots, views from above, below or from the side (Moran, 2016;Clover, 1998). Courts could develop more sophisticated protocols, as they have done in the UK in regard to filming judgment summaries (Moran, 2016) For an example of suggested guidelines, see . ...
... Courts should pay attention, as film directors do, to the background to the subject, the costume of the subject, the presence or absence of symbolic markers of justice (such as the coat of arms), as well as the impact of camera angles, close-ups or long-shots, views from above, below or from the side (Moran, 2016;Clover, 1998). Courts could develop more sophisticated protocols, as they have done in the UK in regard to filming judgment summaries (Moran, 2016) For an example of suggested guidelines, see . ...
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