The public has no right to copy court recordings, according to an Oct. 30 ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court. The Court’s position is opposed by the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.
As podcasts grow into an increasingly powerful form of communication, courts are regularly facing requests for the audio recordings of criminal cases. The foundation believes that an audio recording of a court proceeding is a court record subject to state Open Records laws, and that the public and media should be able to obtain a copy.
In a statement following the state Supreme Court’s ruling, the foundation said, “In criminal cases, the court reporters who make the audio recordings are typically paid with taxpayer dollars. The public should get the benefit of that expenditure. The Supreme Court could require that the audio recordings be filed with the trial court. Then, under the logic of the Court’s decision, the public and press would be able to obtain copies of them.”
The makers of the popular true-crime podcast “Undisclosed” brought the case heard by the Court. They were attempting to acquire copies of audio recordings from a murder trial in Northwest Georgia.
Here is a sampling of press coverage of the court’s decision:
- Justices: Court Reporter Recordings Off Limits Unless Filed with the Court, The Daily Report
- Public has no Right to Courtroom Recordings, Georgia Justices Rule, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
- Ga. High Court Upholds Floyd Judge’s Ruling on Access to Recordings for Podcast, The Rome News-Tribune