Bill introduced to ban coverage of jury deliberations
MAINE–Acting in response to court approval of the videotaping of jury deliberations in a civil case, a state legislator in mid-March introduced a bill which would prohibit the photographing or videotaping of such deliberations.
Representative James D. Libby (R-Buxton) proposed the emergency measure following a ruling in early February by the Maine Supreme Court granting CBS News permission to videotape jury deliberations as part of a “CBS Reports” documentary on the jury process.
The proposed law would make the taping of a jury session a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
In introducing his bill, Libby cited concerns of juror privacy and the integrity of the judicial system, telling the House that “cameras in the law court have brought shame and disgrace to the system of justice.”
The legislation was introduced as an emergency measure because CBS plans to start filming deliberations in May.
In 1986, PBS became the first broadcast system to tape jury deliberations, as part of a PBS “Frontline” program involving a criminal trial in Wisconsin. CBS would be the first commercial network to record jury deliberations. (L.D. 1868)