Congress, Courts Consider Camera Access to Trials

News Media and the Law, Spring 1998 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Congress, Courts Consider Camera Access to Trials

Although courts in Nevada, Illinois, and Rhode Island have acted to limit camera access recently, the U.S. Congress is considering a bill that would allow federal district court judges to experiment with camera coverage.

Surprisingly, the Nevada court allowed "two-minute snippets" but barred "gavel-to-gavel" coverage as too disruptive and intrusive, while the Rhode Island decision supported a judge's decision to deny coverage partly because of fears that the media would take short segments out of context.


In mid-February, a state district court judge in Las Vegas decided that the trial of Jeremy Strohmeyer, accused of strangling and sexually assaulting seven-year-old Sherrice Iverson last May, will remain open to the electronic and print media but "gavel-togavel" coverage will not be permitted.

Judge Don Chairez contended that because the CourtTV cable network is not accessible in Clark County, the site of the trial, gavel-to-gavel coverage by the network would not educate the community, which was already served by the local news media.

In denying the CourtTV request for camera access to the entire trial, Chairez asserted that having "a camera in the courtroom with a live feed for the entire trial is far more intrusive than having a reporter quietly taking notes or having cameras take a two-minute snippet of film."

He also noted that one of Strohmeyer's attorneys, Leslie Abramson, is employed by CourtTV. Such a relationship, Chairez ruled, may make her feel "self-conscious" because the network may focus on her more than other trial participants and consequently interfere with Strohmeyer's Sixth Amendment rights to a fair trial. (Nevada v. Strohmeyer)


In late March, the Illinois Supreme Court denied without comment a petition filed in late January by the Illinois Broadcasters Association, the Chicago Headline Club and the Illinois News Broadcasters Association to allow cameras in Illinois trial courts for a one-year trial period. Cameras are currently allowed only in state appellate courts.

The organizations asked the court to approve the experiment in early February. (See Ni'L, Winter 1998) (Petition to VT.R. 1474S)


In mid-February, the Rhode Island Supreme Court in Providence unanimously held that a criminal defendant does not have a right to a televised trial.

The appellate panel noted that state court rules prohibit review of the trial justice's decision to prohibit cameras in the courtrooms, and found no "constitutional implications" in the exercise of a justice's discretion.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Congress, Courts Consider Camera Access to Trials


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?