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Senate bill would allow cameras in federal courts

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Cameras would be allowed in federal courtrooms, so long as a judge approves, under a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate…

Cameras would be allowed in federal courtrooms, so long as a judge approves, under a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate last week.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced the "Sunshine in the Courtroom" bill, S.657,  which "would allow the chief judge of federal trial appellate courts to permit cameras in their courtrooms," according to the senator’s press release.  While the bill would not automatically require all federal judges to permit cameras in courtrooms, it "gives federal judges the discretion to allow cameras or other electronic media access if they see fit," the release said.

A three-year "sunset provision" is written into the bill, giving Congress time to evaluate the effects of the law. Grassley said overall, the change would help "demystify" the country’s judicial system.

"It’s just the best way to maintain confidence and accountability in the system and help judges do a better job," he said.

The bill is co-sponsored by seven other senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee including  Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Currently, 48 states permit audio-video coverage in courtrooms, while roughly 37 directly televise trials, Grassley pointed out.