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Cameras allowed in New York City courtroom for the first time in five years

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    NMU         NEW YORK         Broadcasting         Feb 21, 2002    

Cameras allowed in New York City courtroom for the first time in five years

  • A judge ruled last week that a New York statute prohibiting cameras from the courtroom is unconstitutional considering the public interest in the trial before him.

For the first time in five years, a New York state judge is letting cameras into a New York City courtroom, where a Brooklyn judge will stand trial on a bribery charge.

State Supreme Court Justice Nicholas Colabella, a Westchester judge, ruled last week that he will allow cameras at the trial of Justice Victor Barron. Colabella believes the case should be open to the public in order to ensure the public’s trust in the judicial process, David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the Office of the Court Administration, told the New York Post.

Bookstaver noted that the case would be the first time in five years that a judge had allowed cameras into a New York City courtroom.

Barron claims he never demanded a lawyer pay him $115,000 in exchange for signing off on a $4.9 million dollar settlement. The bribery charge is related to a suit filed by a family, including an infant, injured in a car accident in 1998. Judges must approve settlements involving infants.

Collabella’s ruling goes against a 50-year-old state statute that bars cameras from the courtroom. But several judges in other parts of the state have found the statute unconstitutional since the expiration of a ten-year-old law, in effect from 1987 to 1997, that allowed cameras in courtrooms on an “experimental” basis. In 2000, Justice Joseph Terisi allowed Court TV to cover the Amadou Diallo case in Albany in which four New York City police officers were charged with killing an unarmed immigrant.

KG

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