Monday, August 1, 2011

Federal courts again experiment with allowing cameras

From the Citizen Media Law Project:
The program, which was approved by the U.S. Judicial Conference last year and allows court-operated cameras to cover civil proceedings in 14 federal trial courts, is just the latest chapter in the long saga on the question of camera coverage of federal trial courts.

This is not the first time that the federal courts have experimented with camera coverage of their proceedings. From 1991 through 1994, the federal courts conducted a limited test of camera coverage of civil trials in eight federal district courts, which led to a recommendation that federal courts allow televised proceedings. But the Judicial Conference -- which sets policies for all federal courts except the U.S. Supreme Court, which sets its own rules -- rejected this recommendation, concluding in 1994 that “the intimidating effect of cameras on some witnesses and jurors was a cause for serious concern.”

The Judicial Conference then relented a bit, deciding in March 1996 to allow each federal Circuit to decide the issue for itself and the district courts in its geographic area, while strongly urging the Circuits to follow the Conference’s 1994 policy.