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Maine experiment with cameras in courts ends

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MAINE -- The future of cameras and broadcast equipment in Maine's trial courts will remain undecided until Nov. 30, following…

MAINE — The future of cameras and broadcast equipment in Maine’s trial courts will remain undecided until Nov. 30, following a two-year experimental project that ended in August.

Between July 1991 and August 1993, the experiment permitted broadcasters and photographers access to certain proceedings in Bangor and Portland trial courts, except those involving sex and some violent crimes.

The Maine Supreme Court’s began the experiment in response to a petition filed by the Maine Association of Broadcasters and the Maine Press Association in 1990. Since 1982, the state high court has allowed broadcast and photographic coverage of its proceedings.

A committee of lawyers, court administrators and law professors headed by Portland attorney Charles Harvey will assess the impact of the experimental camera coverage and present its findings to the Supreme Court Nov. 30.

The committee said the news media breached a few of the experiment’s rules.

Media coverage during the two-year experiment included brief hearings and some civil trials.