Cameras in the Courtroom

March 1, 2014

We often see big trials publicized on the news with video recorded from within the courtroom. But do you know how much effort it takes to get the cameras in there?

Our court system was developed so that we would have public trials, so that the world could see what went on – not because it’s some amazing spectacle, but to ensure that the judges, officers, jurors, and everyone else were acting within their rights, and not abusing the rights of the accused.

Since cameras came around, it has been difficult to get them into the courtroom. They are allowed in for high profile cases, but try to bring one in for your own case and you will be harassed and threatened until you turn it off and put it away.

Of course the court is recording everything, but it’s either by someone typing, or an audio recording, so there can be a lot that is lost if you are trying to document what really goes on here.

As a member of the Texas house, I would introduce legislation that would require all courts to allow any person to record video, so long as they are not disrupting the court. This would include a defendant recording his own trial, a spectator recording anyone’s trial, or the news.

One concern that has been mentioned is that there is a concern for minors who appear in court – either because they are being accused as a juvenile, or because they are a witness to a crime or a family affair. Certain exclusions can be made for such circumstances, but there are already procedures in place where the public is not allowed to see these trials for the same concerns. If the public is not allowed in the court, they obviously wouldn’t be able to film.