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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ind. Courts - More on "Easterbrook Slams CD Illinois Judge For Allowing Cameras in the Courtroom"

Updating this ILB entry from Oct. 2nd, Ameet Sachdev, in the Chicago Law Blog, writes:

The controversy may stir more debate about a ban some think is outdated. In spite of the rapid advancement of technology that gives the public uncensored access to events before unseen, the media still rely on artists’ rendering to capture trial action or arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Michael Monico, a Chicago lawyer who is president of the 7th Circuit Bar Association, said it may be time for the jurisdiction to take a new look at the rules prohibiting cameras.

“I thought they would be intimidating to witnesses,” Monico said. “But my views have changed over the years.”

Supreme Court Justice David Souter, one of the strongest opponents of cameras in the courtroom, once said “I think the case is so strong that I can tell you the day you see a camera come into our courtroom it’s going to roll over my dead body.”

With Souter’s retirement this year, some say Congress has a chance to lift the ban. “Several state courts televise trials without problems,” said Steven Lubet, an expert on trial strategy and legal ethics at Northwestern University School of Law. “All of the predicted problems turned out to be illusory. People thought lawyers would grandstand or the public would misunderstand but none of that happened.”

In Illinois, cameras are not allowed in trial courts. But state appellate courts, including the Supreme Court, have allowed video cameras and audio recording devices upon request since 1985. In 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court began posting video recordings of oral arguments on its Web site. A court spokesman said he’s not aware of any complaints about the recordings.

Easterbrook acknowledged the ongoing debate about the role of cameras in the courtroom in his Sept. 28 memo on the McDade matter, but he did not to take sides.

“No matter what one makes of these contentions, once the Judicial Conference of the United States and Judicial Council of the Seventh Circuit have adopted a policy, a judge must implement it without regard to his own views,” Easterbrook wrote.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 6, 2009 01:26 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions