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Tennessee experiments with cameras in courtrooms

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Tennessee experiments with cameras in courtrooms01/29/96 TENNESSEE-- After a five year study, the Tennessee Supreme Court in Nashville ruled in…

Tennessee experiments with cameras in courtrooms

01/29/96

TENNESSEE– After a five year study, the Tennessee Supreme Court in Nashville ruled in mid-December to allow television and still cameras to photograph criminal and civil trials and their appeals without requiring the consent of the parties.

The ruling allows cameras into state courtrooms as part of a one year experiment. Prior to the ruling, the consent of all participants in a trial was required before cameras were allowed in the courtroom.

Under the new rule, the presiding judge is authorized to suspend or ban television coverage to control court proceedings.

The rule bars cameras from photographing minors and jurors and covering bench conferences. It also requires consent by defendants in juvenile proceedings, and requires media personnel to “deport themselves in such a way that will not detract from the proceeding.”

Over the course of the one year experiment, judges, lawyers, witnesses, jurors and court personnel will be surveyed to help the court determine whether the rule should be withdrawn, modified or made permanent. Participants will be asked whether they found the cameras distracting or intimidating, or if they felt the cameras affected their behavior or the behavior of others. (Supreme Court Rule 30)