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Groundswell needed before South Dakota opens courts to cameras

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  1. Court Access
    NMU         SOUTH DAKOTA    

    NMU         SOUTH DAKOTA         Broadcasting         Sep 26, 2000    

Groundswell needed before South Dakota opens courts to cameras

  • State high court’s chief justice receptive to a trial run of videotaping trials in one of the remaining states to bar access

South Dakota courtrooms will remain camera-free unless lawyers and the public raise the issue with the state legislature, Chief Justice Robert Miller said at a seminar devoted to news coverage of the criminal justice system. Unless the media gain the support of the South Dakota people and educate them on the matter, judges will not consider opening the courtrooms, he added.

South Dakota remains one of two states that do not allow cameras in its courtrooms. Mississippi is the second. The amount of access varies state-to-state with 48 permitting cameras in both trial and appellate levels.

Advocates for cameras in the courts argued the act of permitting cameras itself educates the public on judicial proceedings and provides unfiltered news coverage. Opponents contended the cameras impede on the right to a fair trial by interfering with court procedures and promoting theatrics in the courtroom.

The chief justice said each side has a strong argument, but said he would not object in experimenting with the cameras. He suggested training sessions given by the Associated Press would benefit the lawyers, judges and reporters on making the cameras in the court a permanent fixture.

“We owe it to the public and we owe it to each other to foster mutual understanding,” Miller said earlier this month.


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