The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press today recommended that Minnesota courts change their long-standing policy and adopt court rules that would allow electronic and photographic equipment into the state’s trial courts.
Minnesota appellate courts have long allowed cameras in their courtrooms but have effectively banned such equipment from trial courts, placing the state among those with the least access for cameras in courts.
“Minnesota is surrounded by states that allow routine camera access to their state trial courts,” said Reporters Committee executive Director Lucy A. Dalglish. “Those states have not have problems with cameras in their courts, and there’s no reason to think Minnesota will either.”
The Reporters Committee encouraged the Minnesota Supreme Court Advisory Committee to adopt rules proposed by a group of Minnesota media organizations that would both allow electronic and photographic equipment into the trial courts, but also safeguard against potential concerns that may arise from the presence of that equipment.
“The Petition brings to light the changes in technology that have led to increasingly unobtrusive recording of proceedings that can benefit not only the public and the press, but the parties and the integrity of the legal system as well,” the comments said.
Currently, all 50 states allow electronic or photographic equipment in courtrooms in some capacity. For more than 25 years, Minnesota has had a system in which any of the parties or the judge may decide that cameras are not allowed in any given trial, effectively banning cameras from Minnesota’s trial courts. Changes to Minnesota’s policy within its trial courts system would bring it in line with the vast majority of states that routinely allow cameras in their trial courts.
The comments can be found at: www.rcfp.org/news/documents/20071018-commentson.pdf