Should cameras and other recording devices be allowed in our state courts?

There’s a story today on the AP wire about an upcoming meeting to go over proposals that would allow cameras and other recording devices in our state courts.

As you could have probably guessed, I’m all for cameras and recording devices in courts. We already have open court proceedings that anybody can walk into and watch. Why then would we not allow those proceedings to be broadcast?

The one reservation I have about allowing cameras in court is the way it could affect newspapers. Right now, we have a monopoly of sorts on court coverage because our broadcast competitors are hamstrung by the ban on cameras in the courtroom. Losing that advantage is a small price to pay, though, for greater openness in government.

I’m curious to know where you, the public, stands on this issue. Should cameras be allowed in our courtrooms?

21 thoughts on “Should cameras and other recording devices be allowed in our state courts?

  1. That is a very positive postion you have taken for openness in government. It would be competition but competition is what good government is all about. Yes, I agree that cameras should be allowed in courtrooms but along with cameras, good manners and common sense.

  2. Rod, we agree 100%! The cameras would promote transparency and accountability! Today’s felony charge sentencing of Mr. Margheim (stole monies from state swimming association kids) would have been an excellent broadcast for everyone in the community to see!

    Based on today’s TDR headlines, we also need cameras in the Davison County Commissioners’ meeting room & Davison County Auditor’s office! Likewise, all Mitchell School District 17-2 Board of Education (BOE) meetings need to broadcast due to the “last-name double standards” being promoted by our district’s BOE and Supt!

  3. Seth indicated that The Daily Republic had a monopoly on the news from the courts when no cameras or recording devices are present. Readers of The Daily Republic read where Mr. David Margheim was charged with taking money that did not belong to him. He is appearing in court for judgement. Also readers read about Erin Fowkes being arrested for an action with a high school student. Will The Daily Republic report the outcomes of these cases on page three with the other court cases?

    School board member Eric Christensen was accused of stealing property. Before the truth was known many were calling for his resignation from the school board. When the jury of local citizens heard the testimony of those making the charges they found the charges to be false and determined that Christensen was NOT GUILTY!

    When persons who have some connection to the public school (married to a board member, school counselor or a board member) face charges the public is very interested. All these readers have a right to know “the rest of the story”. What is good for the goose is good for the gander!

  4. We pay a few hundred dollars a year for our daily papers and yes, we do expect to read the outcome of cases reported. Taxes go to support the courts, judges, police and others involved in protecting the public. It is reassuring to read the printed word when the full story is made public. Just take a look at nations that do not allow the freedom of press.

  5. I am just going to threw this out there … in the past year, there have been THREE courts and cops reporters (including the current young lady). Could it be that these reporters are inexperience to properly handle the crime and court beat? (I don’t know their backgrounds.) Look at if from a professional angle … if I was a state’s attorney or a police officer or even the court clerks … I would have a hard time “building a trustworthy relationship” with three different reporters in one year.

  6. Seth, we found nothing in TDR’s morning paper reporting on Mr. David Margheim’s sentencing details from yesterday? Was Mr. Margheim’s sentencing postponed yesterday? If not, then what were the terms of Mr. Margheim’s sentence?

  7. Hmmmm… transparency and accountability – may I add respect and dignity toward all parties in all police and court procedures?

    The negative, downright one sided press space given to arrests, together with the police and judicial systems treatment of the “accused” is horrific. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? How about sentencing details made public? How many people are left with a bad image for accusations they were innocent of? Equal justice under the law? I think not. It seems to be who you are and who you know in this county.

    I would love to have cameras in the court rooms. I think the public would have a rude awakening to what is really transpiring. Also think our police department needs to use more brain power when deciding under which circumstances an arrest is warranted. Oh, yeah, the states attorney also has a lot to learn on deciding what charges apply.

    I would like to think we could get out of this third world mentality we have here and abide by the laws of our nation “with liberty and justice for all.”

  8. There is no reason not to have cameras in the court room. If the court has nothing to hide, then the court should not be afraid of the light of day shining in. The courtroom belongs to the people, not the judges or lawyers.

  9. Having worked in “the system” for many years I find this topic intresting as I sit and read all the comments about the system, the police and the attorneys… and how cameras will change things for the better… and remembering the circus the OJ trial had with companys painting their logos on monitors, etc to get free publicity…

    But that aside, how will cameras make the process more transparent? Almost all trials and court proceedings are open to the public and press now. All that needs to be done is they (the public and the press) have to actually walk to the courtroom. You are bound to miss something when your reporters just go to the Clerks Office the day after a proceeding to get the “news”.

    I don’t see the three “K’s” (Kelo, KSFY & KLDT) covering anything any differently, Just the major cases they do now.

    And by deciding what cases you cover, by your intrupetation of the “public’s intrest” are you not the ones that are fogging the transparency??

    But, we live in the 21st century and have the technogy, let the “remotes” rule.

  10. From the Inside,

    Life is busy. People don’t have time to attend trails, city council meetings, county commissioner meetings, and school board meetings. As a result, people must rely on our local television, radio, newspaper, & inter-net as their sources of public information. Unfortunately, the news media does withhold information from the public due to last-name favoritisms. Unfortunately, the news media does misinterpret and misreport the facts. Video and audio recordings present the whole honest truth void of such discrimination and subjective interpretations. We need the cameras and audio equipment in our courtrooms, plus in our city council, county commissioner, and school board meeting rooms. We agree – let the remotes rule!!!

  11. The Daily Republic did report that David Margheim stole about $3000. and he has to pay back about that much plus a fine and 10 days in jail. Chicken thieves used to get prison time for few old hens and roosters. Times change but people still want to know and do appreciate court reports.

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