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Trial judge deems camera law unconstitutional

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    NMU         NEW YORK         Broadcasting         Apr 4, 2001    

Trial judge deems camera law unconstitutional

  • Another ruling in favor of cameras in New York’s courtrooms could lead to an appellate review of the constitutionality of the law that bans them.

A New York law that prohibits cameras in state courtrooms could face its first appellate review following a recent ruling by a Sullivan County judge. Judge Frank J. LaBuda will permit video cameras at a murder trial after he decided that the law is unconstitutional.

LaBuda granted a request by WRNN television on March 30 to record the trial of defendant Anthony Schroedel because, the judge said, section 52 of the state’s Civil Right Law cannot withstand modern-day constitutional scrutiny. The section, which prohibits the use of cameras, has been in effect since 1952, although there have been numerous statewide experiments with cameras in the courts.

The decision came less than a month after LaBuda allowing a newspaper to use a still camera at in the same trial.

Anthony Schroedel is charged with multiple counts of first- and second-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and other felonies for allegedly stabbing to death Barbara Vogt and seriously injuring her son, J.T. If convicted of first-degree murder, Schroedel could face a possible sentence of death by lethal injection.

“The citizens of Sullivan County have a right to know under what circumstances a person may or may not receive the death penalty,” LaBuda said in his ruling. “Openness of the judiciary should always be favored when the knowledge of society can be enlarged and the rights of all safeguarded.”

First Deputy Capital Defender Mark B. Harris, whose office represents Schroedel, told the New York Law Journal he may challenging the ruling. Such an appeal would be the first appellate review of the constitutionality of section 52.

(New York v. Schroedel; WRNN media counsel: Tina Kraus) EH

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