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Court allows camera access in 'Victoria's Secret' case

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Court allows camera access in 'Victoria's Secret' case05/20/96 NEW YORK--A federal District Court judge in Manhattan in late April granted…

Court allows camera access in ‘Victoria’s Secret’ case

05/20/96

NEW YORK–A federal District Court judge in Manhattan in late April granted Court TV permission to televise proceedings in an unfair pricing case brought against Victoria’s Secret Catalogue.

Judge Robert Sweet ruled that the court’s Local Rule 7 allowed him to issue the order. Rule 7 states that, “No one other than court officials engaged in the conduct of court business shall bring any camera, transmitter, receiver, portable telephone or recording device into any courthouse or its environs without written permission of a judge of that court.”

According to the court, District Courts are not required to defer to a resolution adopted in mid-March by the U.S. Judicial Conference, which urged circuit judicial councils to prohibit cameras in federal District Courts and to abrogate any local rules of the court that conflict with the conference’s position opposing cameras in trial courts. Sweet noted that the Judicial Conference is not authorized to change or overrule District Court rules.

The court’s order repeatedly cited a recent case in the District Court in Manhattan, Marisol v. Giuliani, in which another judge allowed Court TV to televise arguments in a case challenging New York’s child welfare agency. In granting that order in early March, Judge Robert Ward relied on Rule 7 as the basis for his authority to allow camera access.

Judge Sweet also cited experiments indicating that in-court cameras can increase public access to the courtroom, enhance public education, and ensure greater fairness toward parties by judges “without interfering with the fair administration of justice.” (Katzman v. Victoria’s Secret Catalogue; Court TV Counsel: Floyd Abrams, New York)