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Cameras in courts through the years

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From the Winter 2007 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 10. 1946: Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure…

From the Winter 2007 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 10.

1946: Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 53 prohibits U.S. District Courts from allowing the taking of photographs or broadcasting in the courtroom during judicial proceedings.

1965: The Supreme Court decides in Estes v. Texas that television coverage created a circus-like atmosphere and that due process of law was denied to the defendant.

1981: The Supreme Court holds in Chandler v. Florida that states may adopt rules permitting cameras and recording equipment in their courts. Since then, all 50 states have done so, but the rules vary widely. In some states visual and audio coverage is permitted in all types of court proceedings that are public, and in others such coverage is permitted only in appellate courts.

1996: The Judicial Conference adopts a resolution that said that each federal appellate court can decide for itself whether to allow cameras. Only the Second and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals currently allow cameras.

1997: Bills in the House and Senate would authorize any judge of any federal district or appellate court to permit photographing, televising and other electronic media coverage of court proceedings over which the judge presided. Similar bills have been introduced in every Congress since.

2005: Bills introduced in the House and Senate would require the televising of all open sessions of the Supreme Court, unless the court decided by a majority vote that such coverage in a particular case would violate the due process rights of one or more of the parties before the court. The legislation makes it out of committee in the Senate but not the House and is never put to a full vote by either house.

2005: Cameras in courts legislation similar to previous bills passes the entire House as a provision in a larger House bill, H.R. 1751, the Secure Access to Justice and Court Protection Act of 2005. The bill passes the House overwhelmingly and is referred to the Senate, but never passes there.