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Judge reprimanded for allowing cameras in courtroom

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An appellate judge criticized a federal district court judge on Monday for allowing video recording and still photography at a…

An appellate judge criticized a federal district court judge on Monday for allowing video recording and still photography at a court hearing.

Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago (7th Cir.) issued a memorandum reprimanding U.S. District Court Judge Billy McDade, saying allowing the cameras violated a policy of the Judicial Conference of the United States, a resolution adopted by the Seventh Circuit’s Judicial Council, and a local rule of the district court.

McDade apologized, explaining that he thought he had the authority to allow cameras, but Easterbrook disagreed. “The role of cameras in the courtroom is a subject of ongoing debate in the legislative and judicial branches, and among members of the public,” Easterbrook wrote. But he added that the Seventh Circuit Judicial Council’s resolution banning cameras is binding on all federal judges in the circuit, which encompasses Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

Other jurisdictions are more permissive. All states allow at least some state court proceedings to be televised. Some federal courts, including trial courts in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, likewise allow judges to permit cameras.