Cameras in Court

March 7, 1956

Report Outline
Moves to Lift Courtroom Ban on Cameras
Restrictions on Taking Pictures in Court
Disputed Aspects of Courtroom Photography
Special Focus

Moves to Lift Courtroom Ban on Cameras

A continuing campaign by news photographers and television broadcasters to win removal of restrictions on picture-taking in the courts has been given fresh impetus. The Colorado supreme court ruled on Feb. 27 that judges of subordinate courts in that state have authority to decide whether to permit picture coverage of trials over which they preside. “Live” telecasting of a murder trial at Waco, Tex., last December, and recent admission of photographers to several other courtrooms, likewise have encouraged efforts to bring about lifting or modification of prevailing: restrictions.

By performance in the courts and at a number of staged demonstrations, cameramen have convinced many judges and lawyers that technical improvements have made it possible to introduce press and TV cameras into the courtroom without detracting from the decorum of trial proceedings. There is therefore growing agreement with the contention of photographers that bans on cameras in court, based mainly on Canon 35 of the American Bar Association's Canons of Judicial Ethics, ought to be relaxed.

Ruling Of Colorado Court Relaxing Camera Ban

The ruling of the Colorado supreme court was in the form of approval and adoption of a report by Associate Justice 0. Otto Moore. Moore had presided a few weeks earlier, as court-appointed referee, over hearings at which press, radio, and television spokesmen presented arguments and demonstrations calculated to persuade the court to abandon observance of Canon 35, which it bad previously adopted. The hearings were held “to explore the facts and the law in order …[to] determine whether Canon 35 should be repealed, amended, or continued and enforced in its present form.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Challenges of the Courts
Jan. 14, 2011  Cameras in the Courtroom
Oct. 22, 1993  Science in the Courtroom
May 27, 1988  Protecting Rights in State Courts
Oct. 07, 1983  Court Backlog
Jan. 16, 1981  Television in the Courtroom
Jun. 03, 1970  Reform of the Courts
Nov. 16, 1960  Congestion in the Courts
Mar. 07, 1956  Cameras in Court
Jul. 18, 1939  Reform of Lower Federal Courts
Feb. 04, 1936  Restriction of Powers of Federal Courts
Apr. 14, 1931  Reform of Magistrates' Courts
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Freedom of Information
Freedom of Speech and Press