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Judicial panel reprimands judge for accommodating cameras

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    NMU         MISSISSIPPI         Broadcasting         Jun 19, 2001    

Judicial panel reprimands judge for accommodating cameras

  • A trial judge did not contest a public reprimand for having allowed video and still cameras in his courtroom in Mississippi, one of the last two states to have barred camera coverage in all courts.

The Mississippi Supreme Court has reprimanded a state judge for allowing video and still cameras in his courtroom. The decision comes even as the state high court liberalizes rules for videotaping its own hearings and oral arguments.

In 1998, Lee County Justice Court Judge Pat Carr allowed the arraignment of two murder suspects in his courtroom to be photographed and recorded. Some of the footage was later broadcast. In 1999, Carr presided over an initial appearance for a man charged with threatening phone calls. Carr allowed the print and broadcast news media to photograph and record the hearing. Carr also allowed the press to photograph and record the initial appearance of a kidnapping suspect who was being held without bond.

The Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance filed a complaint against Carr last year. On June 14, Carr did not contest the facts in the complaint and agreed to the public reprimand.

In April, the Mississippi Supreme Court began broadcasting oral arguments and hearings on its Web site. The court also allows television stations to plug into a video and audio feed to record court proceedings. State appellate courts are expected to adopt a similar system.

But state trial courts remain closed to cameras. Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Edwin Pittman said that there are no plans to change that rule in state trial courts.

CM

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© 2001 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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