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Federal appellate court votes down camera access

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Federal appellate court votes down camera access11/04/96 LOUISIANA--In mid-October, judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans (5th…

Federal appellate court votes down camera access

11/04/96

LOUISIANA–In mid-October, judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans (5th Cir.) voted to keep cameras and tape recorders out of their courtrooms. A breakdown of the vote was not disclosed.

Local rules pertaining to recording of oral arguments were rewritten after the Judicial Conference of the United States voted to allow each federal appellate circuit to decide whether or not to allow cameras in their courtrooms. Previously, standards for recording in the courtrooms of the circuits were governed by the Judicial Conference.

The revised rule was first proposed in July, but was not signed until after the panel of judges reviewed comments from 15 media organizations, including the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Under the new rules, the only exception allowed to the tape recording rule would be if an attorney obtained advance permission from the court to have a court reporter transcribe an oral argument. This kind of recording is allowed solely for the purpose of preparing an accurate transcript. After the transcript is prepared, the court reporter must destroy or erase the recording, and cannot make it available to other parties.

Only two circuits, the Second Circuit in New York City and the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, have voted to allow camera recording of oral arguments. (Local Rule 34.7, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit)