[Jed Sorokin-Altmann] Law.com posted John Caher's article, "In Loss For Court TV, N.Y. Judges Continue Ban on Cameras in Courts," from the 6-17-05 New York Law Journal. On June 16th, the New York Court of Appeals upheld New York's ban on cameras in the courtroom, rejecting Court TV's claim that the state constitution gave grounds for "electronic access to trial proceedings."
The court's ruling found that New York's 1952 law banning cameras from courts survives challenge, even if a strict scrutiny standard were to be applied. "Additionally, the court made clear that the press has no greater right of access to the courtroom than the general public, that the state Legislature and not the courts should decide if televising trials is in the public interest and that in some applications New York's historically expansive free speech provision covers no more ground than the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It also stressed that the right to a fair trial outweighs any right of access afforded either the public or the press."
I'm throwing the question out to you: where do you stand on whether or not cameras should be allowed in the courtroom?
I have mixed feelings on the matter. As a pre-law student, I've often regretted that more courts do not televise their proceedings. When I can, I often make the trip downtown to watch trials in Boston's Suffolk Superior Court or the Boston Municipal Court, and I've always found it interesting and educational. On the other hand, the Speech courses I've taken at Dartmouth College have convinced me that cameras can change the nature of the speech. Or the trial. I very much fear how cameras might affect witnesses, and even the lawyers and judges. What audience will the trial participants be playing to? What will be running through their minds? There is a real danger here, on the trial level.
On the other hand, when it comes to a state Supreme Court, or the US Supreme Court, I think that cameras should most definitely be allowed and encouraged. The educational value outweighs any negatives here, and so long as the camera is run and operated the same way that C-SPAN and C-SPAN 2 are, I don't see it being problematic.