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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Ind. Courts - Journal Gazette speaks out on cameras in the courtroom

In an editorial this morning titled "Courts, cameras and access" the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette urges transparency in the courtroom, at all levels. Some quotes:

Although transparency is often looked at as something needed to allow the public to keep watch over the legislative and executive branches of government, access to the judiciary is equally important. So Americans should be pleased Congress is closer to allowing federal district court judges to decide whether electronic recording devices can be used during hearings and trials.

Regardless of what happens at the federal level, Hoosiers should push for such a rule for county courts. * * * A judge should be allowed to determine whether cameras and other recording equipment would serve the greater good of the community. Let the presiding judge weigh the advantages and disadvantages. Wisconsin Democrat Sen. Russ Feingold recently proffered the most elegant argument for opening courts to cameras.

“When the workings of government are transparent, the governed can understand them more thoroughly and constructively, and more readily hold their elected leaders and other public officials accountable,” Feingold said.

Feingold’s reasoning also applies to Indiana courts. The Indiana Judicial Code bars cameras from all local trial proceedings, although the Indiana Supreme Court in 1996 opened its own hearings to cameras. The state’s appellate courts also have the authority to allow arguments to be recorded. It’s time to change the code to open electronic access to county courts as well.

The ILB had entries on the two Congressional bills to allow cameras in the federal trial and appellate courts here on 10/10/05 ("Forcing the Supreme Court by statute to allow cameras at oral arguments") and here from 10/15/05.

This ILB entry from 9/18/05 looks at the prohibition against camereas in state courtrooms and Indiana and other states. Although the Journal Gazette states "The Indiana Judicial Code bars cameras from all local trial proceedings," I have been so far unable to locate the prohibition in the rules.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 19, 2005 08:01 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts