TALLAHASSEE (NSF) – Pointing to issues such as the emergence of social media and efforts to build support for the judicial branch, the Florida Supreme Court on Monday released a multi-year plan to try to bolster communications about courts throughout the state.READ MORE: State Argues Judge Should Reject COVID-19 Records Case
The 41-page plan partly addresses nuts-and-bolts issues such as working with the news media and the public, while it also seeks to ensure a “unified statewide message” about the court system.
“The goal for communications should focus on promoting the public’s understanding of the role of the court to preserve the rule of law and its critical role in safeguarding the fundamental constitutional and legal rights of all individuals,” one section of the plan said. “Whether these communications are addressing routine court matters or special crises, it is important that courts speak with one voice delivering the same message.”
The document, developed by the Supreme Court’s Judicial Management Council, also calls for finding ways to use social media and other newer technologies in the system’s communications efforts.
“New media such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are transforming the way people seek out information and understand the world,” the plan said. “These communication tools provide opportunities for courts to promote openness and accountability, and can encourage conversation between the courts, journalists, and citizens. Most importantly, they present opportunities for courts to listen to public concerns.”READ MORE: Ring Doorbell Camera Appears To Show Elderly Woman Threatening Neighbor With Knife
The Supreme Court operates an extensive public-information operation, posting large numbers of court documents on its website and updating reporters about high-profile cases. The court’s longtime communications chief, Craig Waters, became somewhat of a national figure in 2000, when he served as a spokesman during the legal battles surrounding the presidential recount.
But public information about appeals courts and circuit courts has been spottier, particularly as courts and other government agencies have moved from paper to digital.
The new plan lists goals and strategies to carry out through 2019.
During 2016, for example, it says one strategy is to promote and improve relations with the Legislature and government agencies to “ensure the accuracy and adequacy of their understanding and perception of the judicial branch.” That includes developing “mechanisms to inform policy makers about accomplishments of the judicial branch, the judicial branch strategic plan, and the judicial branch’s budget priorities and proposed substantive law changes approved by the Florida Supreme Court.”
But those efforts could come at a time when many Republican lawmakers are unhappy with the Supreme Court about issues such as redistricting. Also, some GOP lawmakers, including powerful incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, have called for seeking voter approval of term limits for members of the judiciary.MORE NEWS: Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa Placed On Injured Reserve
The News Service of Florida’s Jim Saunders contributed to this report.