Cameras in the Court

Resource Guide

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.

Featured Links

Radio Television Digital News Association.

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 Pilot Program.

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.

Cameras in the Court

Illinois EMC Policy. (2016).

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.

Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Judiciary Approves Pilot Project for Cameras in District Courts. (2010).

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.

Report of the Committee to Study Extended Media Coverage of Criminal Trial Proceedings in Maryland. (February 2008). Committee to Study Extended Media Coverage, a Subcommittee of the Legislative Committee of the Maryland Judicial Conference This report examines extended media coverage in the courts within Maryland, other states and the Federal courts.  Also examined is the constitutional authority for extending media coverage, as well as beneficial impact versus any negative impact on jurors, witnesses, attorneys, judges and the courts of extending media coverage to criminal trial courts. 
Bruggink, Heidi Hidden Camera. (August 2007). Judicial Reports Discusses the state of camera in the court rules in New York before, during, and after the experimental rule. New interpretations of the law followed the televised arraignment of a defendant accused of slaying a police officer. The author explores ambiguities of the New York rules.
Cameras in the Courtroom: Report on Rule 980. (May 2000). San Francisco: Judicial Council, Administrative Office of the Courts Research and Planning Unit This report summarizes the data received from the trial courts and provides an update on the implementation of the amended rule 980.
Hayslett, Jerrianne What a Difference a Lens Makes. (Summer 1997). Court Manager 12, no. 3: 21 Advocates of cameras in the courtroom promote the basic premise that a trial is a public proceeding and that a television camera can be the most effective and unbiased means of putting the public in the courtroom.
California Rule 1.150. Judicial Council of California The Judicial Council of California's Online Press Center includes Includes text, forms, and answers to frequently asked questions about the rule on cameras in the court.
Schnieff, Henry. Cameras in the Courtroom: A View In Support of More Access. (Fall 2001). Human Rights 28: 14 In this article, Henry Schnieff discusses the benefits of an open judicial system, while balancing the specific needs and requirements of individual cases.

High-Profile Cases

Managing High-Profile Cases. (2017).

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.

Hannaford, Paula. Making the Case for Juror Privacy: A New Framework for Court Policies and Procedures. (2001). Although actual cases of retaliation against jurors are extremely rare, they do occur occasionally and so concerns about that possibility by citizens are very real. Some of these concerns may be the result of excessive publicity about the lives of jurors that have served in high profile trials in recent years.
Parachini, Allan. Managing the Media. (Summer 2006). California Courts Review: 18 The author, public information officer for the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, provides tips for dealing with the media in high-profile cases.
Report on Fair Trial of High Profile Cases. (1998). American College of Trial Lawyers Seventeen-page pamphlet that gives twelve recommendations to judges of notorious trials and comments on judicial ethics and responsibility that accompany a notorious trial subject to media scrutiny.
Secret Justice: Anonymous Juries. (Fall 2000). The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: 1 Article on the use of anonymous juries in high-profile cases.
Casey, Pamela et al. Through the Eyes of the Juror: A Manual for Addressing Juror Stress. (September 1998). Notorious trials often involve many sources of stress, including severe disruptions of daily routine due to lengthier trials and jury sequestration, significant media publicity, and more troubling evidence and testimony introduced at trial.