CONNEAUT — In another digital step forward, proceedings at the Conneaut Municipal Court will be livestreamed on YouTube, Conneaut Municipal Court Judge Nicholas Iarocci said.

The court already had most of the infrastructure for livestreaming in place, and the only thing that needed to be added was a camera and some other technology, Iarocci said.

“I felt like it was an important step to take,” Iarocci said. “It was worth the extra effort.”

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor encouraged courts in Ohio to livestream proceedings in September.

Iarocci credited O’Connor’s encouragement and infrastructure improvements that have been made to the court as the reasons for the move.

Some of the improvements made to the courtroom were made due to COVID-19, and others were independent of the pandemic, Iarocci said.

“So it’s kind of a hybrid of everything, but we had a lot already installed, in place, and it really doesn’t take a whole lot more other than a camera and some other technology, which really didn’t amount to much, to make this happen,” Iarocci said.

There are some bugs that need to be worked through, but the court is working through them, Iarocci said.

There are signs throughout the room announcing that the proceedings are livestreamed, he said.

“Court proceedings are public, they’re always public,” Iarocci said. “Anybody can walk into a courtroom, at least before COVID, and be able to watch any public proceeding. There’s really nothing that prevented people from doing that.”

Livestreaming proceedings is another way to give people access to what is going on in court, he said.

Iarocci hopes other courts in the county will follow Conneaut’s lead, he said.

The livestreaming will continue after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Like 95 percent of the improvements we’ve made, they’re not going away,” Iarocci said. “Many of the changes we’ve made, with respect to virtual hearings, those are here to stay.”

Iarocci said that he was previously opposed to virtual hearings, before the pandemic.

“I felt that court proceedings were so important that people had to physically be present, but COVID has changed my philosophy on all of it,” Iarocci said. He believes there are some events where people need to be in court, but many things can be done virtually, he said.

The Conneaut Municipal Court’s YouTube page can be found via the city of Conneaut’s website, conneautohio.gov.

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