Common Cause/NY & New York Focus File Motion with NYS Supreme Court to Make Trump Trial Transcripts Public

New York is one of the only state court systems that charge the media and public for courtroom transcripts, limiting public access to the daily account of trials

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NEW YORK, NY (04/19/2024) (readMedia)-- Common Cause/NY – a leading nonpartisan election and ethics reform group – and New York Focus, a nonprofit newsroom, filed a motion with the New York Supreme Court for the court to post the transcripts from the ongoing Trump trial on the Unified Court System (UCS)'s webpage at the end of the day, or 48 hours after so the Court can correctly redact. Right now, if a person or media company wants access to any court transcripts, they must purchase the transcripts from court personnel at a per page cost. They cannot share the transcripts publicly, and the media can not share copies with the public.

"The longstanding issue of public access to court proceedings has been thrown into sharp relief by the Trump trial. The strength of our judicial system relies on the belief that everyone is equal under the law and that our courts operate fairly and impartially. During such a hotly contested and deeply polarized election season, and with public trust in democratic institutions at near-historic lows, the courts have an obligation to ensure the public knows the proceedings are fair and equal for everyone-including the former President. Since the State does not provide video or audio of the trial, it must make written transcripts of all proceedings available to the public at no cost," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

"New Yorkers have a right to know what happens in their courts. As a nonprofit local news publication, our reporting is routinely hindered by the extreme opacity of the courts - including the difficulty of accessing transcripts, which are critical not only to covering individual cases but also to watchdogging judges, attorneys, and the legal system at large. We urge New York courts to make transcripts freely and easily accessible in all public trials, starting with this one," said Akash Mehta, editor-in-chief of New York Focus.

The motion, which was delivered to the judge in the criminal case, argues that the public is entitled to full court transcripts free of cost since the defendant, former president Trump, has sowed doubt in the public's perception of the media. Daily publication of the transcripts, in turn, would offer unbiased reporting from both left-wing and right-wing outlets. Read the full application attached.

New York State is one of the only jurisdictions in the country that does not allow visual or audio coverage of court trials. During the pandemic, New York courts allowed audio recordings of trials to be made public, but the state has since reversed that policy.