SCOTUS ditches cell phone ban to swear in hearing-impaired lawyers

SCOTUS ditches cell phone ban to swear in hearing-impaired lawyers

The nation’s highest court set aside its policy against cell-phones in the courtroom when it swore in 12 members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Bar Association into the Supreme Court Bar on April 19.

The Supreme Court provided a limited Wi-Fi signal so the lawyers could use their mobile devices to receive a real-time transcription of the swearing-in ceremony through a service called Communication Access Realtime Translation, or CART, according to the SCOTUS Blog.

The CART service provides instant transcriptions of spoken words to the users’ mobile devices through third-party translators, in this case a special court reporter.

The Supreme Court agreed to make the accommodations so the members could participate in the courtroom ceremony, despite its strict no-cell-phone policy. Bloomberg BNA reported that this was the first time CART was used to admit a group to the Supreme Court Bar, though it has been used before for arguing attorneys.

With the help of CART and sign-language interpreters, the 12 members were able to see and understand the proceedings as they were admitted into the Supreme Court Bar. They even stayed for two oral cases being argued that day.

The SCOTUS Blog reported that although these cases were complex and technical, the deaf and hard of hearing lawyers were able to leave with a clear understanding of the mornings’ Supreme Court proceedings, along with their admittance to the bar.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.

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