Improving public access to state supreme courts

Monday, June 24, 2013

The public will soon be able to explore and understand the work of the supreme courts of America's five largest states as never before, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The Oyez Project was one of eight projects chosen as a winner of the Knight News Challenge on Open Gov, which focused on tools that improve the way citizens and governments interact.

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation logo

Announced today at the MIT-Knight Civic Media Conference, The Oyez Project will receive $600,000 in challenge funding to expand its focus from federal to state, making data on state supreme courts available in California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas. The project builds on 20 years of Oyez's work in providing U.S. Supreme Court data to the public, including interactive oral argument recordings, case and supporting documents, and background information on justices and cases.

In July, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law will begin collecting and cataloging thousands of documents and media materials from the supreme courts in the five states, making them immediately available online and via a new mobile app.

"Our state high courts play a vital role in governing us, but they remain opaque to most of the public," said Professor Jerry Goldman, director of The Oyez Project. "Thanks to this grant, we will partner with local institutions to make state high courts transparent, giving citizens and journalists a front-row seat to their work."

"The Oyez Project addresses an aspect of opening access to government that is oft-ignored—our court system," said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation vice president of media and innovation. "This expansion of Oyez to state supreme and federal appellate courts will allow journalists, scholars and the public to better understand and apply important policy decisions to their work and lives."

All content will be hosted by The Oyez Project, a multimedia archive currently devoted to the U.S. Supreme Court. The project will also share breaking news about important docketed cases, including oral arguments and decisions, on Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets.

About The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent

The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law leverages information technology to make materials related to the U.S. Supreme Court instantly accessible to the public. More at

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's Knight News Challenge

The Knight News Challenge on Open Gov is finding breakthrough ideas that improve the way citizens and government interact. More at