OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Supreme Court streamed its proceedings online for the first time this week after the chief justice anticipated public interest in cases challenging new taxes and fees.
Chief Justice Doug Combs allowed the state’s publicly funded television station, OETA, to broadcast oral arguments for three cases on Tuesday, The Oklahoman reported .
The cases involve taxes and fees that the Legislature passed this year affecting cigarettes, automobile sales and electric vehicle ownership. The fees are meant to raise revenue which would mainly go toward health programs and services. The lawsuits challenge how the fees were passed.
Combs knew public interest in the cases was high and anticipated receiving several media requests to allow cameras into court, said Jari Askins, the court’s administrative director. The live feed was a solution to the courtroom’s limited space.
OETA and the court shared the live feed, which at one point had about 700 viewers.
“If only a small fraction of those had come, there would not have been room in the courtroom for them,” Askins said.
Combs also created an overflow area for those who couldn’t get a seat inside the courtroom but still wanted to see the hearing. More than two dozen people were in the room to watch the 3-hour hearing unfold on a TV screen.
“As we got closer to the hearings, we became concerned that the courtroom would be full. We did not want to have a standing-room crowd,” Askins said.