This page was last updated on 10/04/2018
Most states allow cameras in trial courts, in some form, depending on the interpretation of individual state court rules, statutes, or judicial canons. Typically, a specific request is received in a high profile case and the presiding judge has the discretion to allow some type of still or video access. As the lines between the public and journalists continues to blur, these rules become even more problematic.
Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may
be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.
The RTDNA provides a State by State Guide. The current version was completely revised in 2015 and is updated as rules change. While cameras in the trial court may be allowed or disallowed by court rule, statute, or judicial cannon, there are many exceptions that make it difficult to categorize as a simple yes or no. Additionally, local courts may have their own policies or practices that differ from statewide rules.
Massachusetts Open Court Program was a pilot program that provided live streaming of trials from Quincy District Court. Begun in 2010, operated by WBUR, an NPR news station in Boston, the project used digital technology to make the Quincy District Court more accessible to the public. It was also designed to be a testing ground for blogging and tweeting from the courtroom.
The Illinois Supreme Court adopted a permanent program to provide extended media coverage (EMC) in circuit courts. Under the policy, the chief judge of a judicial circuit court can make application for approval to provide EMC of judicial proceedings in the chief judge's judicial circuit. If approved, the court will be authorized to allow news media cameras in trial courtrooms in that circuit.
The Judicial Conference of the United States has approved a pilot project to evaluate the effect of cameras in federal district courtrooms and the public release of digital video recordings of some civil proceedings.
A high-profile case can push a court's staff and resources to their limits and beyond. The Managing High-Profile Cases in the 21st Century website provides the resources a court needs to meet this challenge.