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Two federal appellate courts vote to allow cameras

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Two federal appellate courts vote to allow cameras04/08/96 ROUNDUP--In late March, two federal appellate courts approved guidelines for camera coverage…

Two federal appellate courts vote to allow cameras

04/08/96

ROUNDUP–In late March, two federal appellate courts approved guidelines for camera coverage of arguments in their courtrooms, while two U.S. Supreme Court justices reiterated their opposition to cameras in cases before the high court.

The actions came in response to a resolution adopted in mid-March by the Judicial Conference of the United States allowing camera coverage in federal appellate courts.

Justice David Souter told a congressional appropriations subcommittee that “the day you see a camera come into our courtroom it’s going to roll over my dead body.” Justice Anthony Kennedy also said he was opposed to coverage of the high court, but added it would be “somewhat perverse” to keep cameras out of trial courts, where the most orderly presentation of a case is made.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco (9th Cir.) said it will allow coverage of civil matters and administrative agency proceedings. Coverage of criminal or extradition proceedings will not be allowed, except for appeals of post-conviction habeas corpus suits — petitions challenging the constitutionality of a prisoner’s confinement — including death penalty habeas corpus appeals, according to the guidelines.

The court requires seven-day advance notice by media interested in photographing a particular session, although the appellate panel of judges may waive the notification requirement. The appellate panel may refuse, limit or terminate coverage at its discretion.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York (2d Cir.) will allow coverage for all open court civil proceedings. Coverage will not be permitted in criminal matters, including habeas corpus appeals.

Media organizations interested in undertaking camera coverage of a proceeding must notify the court’s calendar clerk at least two days prior to the event, although the notification requirement can be waived at the discretion of the presiding judge. The panel assigned to hear oral argument retains the authority to prohibit camera coverage of any proceeding.

Second Circuit Chief Judge Jon Newman introduced the resolution that the Judicial Conference adopted, giving circuit courts the authority to allow camera coverage.

Of the 11 other federal appellate courts affected by the Judicial Conference’s resolution, ten have not yet taken any action. The Fifth Circuit, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, voted in late March not to allow camera coverage.

The Ninth Circuit hears appeals from federal courts in California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. The Second Circuit hears appeals from federal courts in New York, Connecticut and Vermont.