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After Media Pressure, Virginia Supreme Court To Release Audio Recordings

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Audio of the proceedings in the Virginia Supreme Court will now be available to the public.
WAMU/Michael Pope
Audio of the proceedings in the Virginia Supreme Court will now be available to the public.

Advocates for open government are celebrating a victory in Virginia, as the state Supreme Court has announced they will start releasing audio recordings of oral arguments.

The new policy is an about-face change from last summer, when WAMU first reported that the court has a taping system but refused to release the audio to the public. A spokeswoman for the court said that new microphones installed in 2008 were so sensitive that justices were concerned their private conversations between one another might become part of the public record. So they opted for a blackout instead.

WAMU's report led to a Roanoke Times editorial, and at least one legislator was drafting a bill to force the court to release the audio. Del. Dave Albo, the chairman for the House Courts of Justice Committee says he's glad justices took action without having their hands forced.

"It's nice that they can solve a problem without us having to pass a bill," Albo says.

Starting this month, the court will post audio recordings of oral arguments to its website, making the files available to the public free of charge.

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