Federal courts to provide audio recordings of some trials

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Federal judges have voted to make available digital audio recordings of some trials and hearings for a small fee. They also cut costs for users of federal court records on the Web.

The Judicial Conference of the United States, which sets federal court policies, said its actions yesterday would improve public access to information about court proceedings.

Audio files will cost $2.40 and will be available soon after court proceedings conclude, although judges may withhold audio in some cases. Chief Judge Anthony Scirica of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said releasing audio of some criminal trials could raise security concerns.

Users of the Web-based records on the PACER system won't be billed unless they view more than $10 worth of pages in a quarter.