This bill — the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act — would allow the presiding judge (or a majority of an en banc panel) of a federal district or circuit court, or the U.S. Supreme Court to permit the photography, electronic recording, broadcasting, or televising of court proceedings to the public. An exception to this would be made if doing so would violate the due process rights of a party to the case (i.e. a plaintiff or defendant). The court would be required to disguise the voice and face of a witness who is not a party to the case by rendering their features unrecognizable to the broadcast audience. The presiding judge would be required to inform witnesses of their right to request their identities be disguised during testimony.
A judge could also obscure the face and voice of a witness if there is a good reason to believe that broadcasting their features could threaten:
The witness’ safety,
The security of the court.
The integrity of ongoing or future law enforcement operations.
The interest of justice.
Judges would be prohibited from allowing the broadcasting of any juror, or the jury selection process. This bill would also prohibit the broadcasting of conferences between attorneys and their clients, or the attorneys and the presiding judge if the conferences are not a part of the official record of court proceedings.
The Judicial Conference of the United States would be required to set forth guidelines for judges to follow when obscuring vulnerable witnesses.
This bill would sunset three years after its enactment, meaning authority for cameras to be in the courtroom would expire unless it’s reauthorized.