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Cite as: December 2013 87 (12) LIJ, p.14

Facebook, an interactive website and a blog written by a retired judge are to be employed by the Supreme Court to communicate directly with the wider community.

Video on demand, summaries of judgments and the opportunity for members of the public to leave comments on court news and participate in an internet forum will be features of the website. The blog will be used to explain controversial issues and other bloggers, such as journalists and academics, will also contribute. LinkedIn is also being considered.

Chief Justice Marilyn Warren detailed the overhaul of the Court’s communications in her Redmond Barry Lecture at the State Library of Victoria on 21 October.

Then, fittingly, the tweets went out.

The overhaul was tweeted the morning after the lecture was given to the Court’s 2564 followers. Another tweet went out a few days later when the Supreme Court’s Facebook page was launched, quickly attracting almost 350 likes. Then remarks from an interview with the Chief Justice on ABC 774 about the Court’s social media revamp were re-tweeted.

Traditionalists read about it in the newspaper. “Plaudits to the Supreme Court,” said an Age editorial about embracing technology.

“Open justice now increasingly means the ability of the community to access information about the courts is through the internet and social media,” Chief Justice Warren said in her lecture, adding she suspected Barry himself, born 200 years ago, would have seen social media as an “extraordinary opportunity” for the courts.

“Technology and social media provide an exhilarating opportunity for the courts to tell the public we serve who we are, what we do, how we do it and why the rule of law matters.”

The court’s technological update was applauded by the Attorney-General Robert Clark and LIV president Reynah Tang.

“I think this is a very sound and important move by the Court,” Mr Clark said.

Mr Tang said: “Anything that demystifies the law for the average person is a good thing and the Supreme Court’s move to enter the social media sphere can only help make what is a very important part of our justice system feel much more accessible.

“The legal system can be a complex and sometimes impenetrable system for the lay person to comprehend and, at the moment, I think the public sometimes struggles to understand some judicial decisions for that reason. The idea to recruit a retired judge to blog about recent significant decisions will hopefully result in less confusion and greater appreciation of the factors behind these outcomes.”


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