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senate Bill S. 783

Bringing Cameras into Federal Courts

Argument in favor

Allowing the broadcast of proceedings in federal courts would increase knowledge and interest in the judicial process. A more transparent courtroom guarantees the right to a public trial.

Vyrena's Opinion
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08/29/2016
Checks and balances people! We have a right to monitor our officials and the system at large. Federal courts hold great power and must be held accountable.
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AndrewGVN's Opinion
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10/13/2015
It's the modern era now. There should be digital photographs of court cases to have a more accurate account of previous trials.
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Curmudgeon's Opinion
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07/03/2015
We need the photographic record anyway as it allows review of body language that is one more way to reveal guilt.
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Argument opposed

Bringing cameras into courtrooms could affect the way that witnesses, judges, jurors, and prosecutors behave. It also raises the potential to publicly expose / endanger vulnerable witnesses and jurors.

Kristyna 's Opinion
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05/19/2016
While I agree that there needs to be more transpacy with some of the decisions that are being made. But having the trail filmed will create the atmosphere that everyone who attends those trails needs to put on a show. Although the only court cases I feel should be recorded should be the Supreme Court since what it decided there would be come apart of the law of the land
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Alejandro 's Opinion
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08/29/2016
I don't know, don't really find a problem with cameras in the courtroom. Although!!!, There should be cameras & brodcasts of Meetings of Congress, etc. As when Bush & all advisors decided to go into war in Iraq or when they granted Bush the right to do what he wants, which his plan was to go to war. Documentation, as cameras, of all that & brodcast. This is asupposed Democracy no!? Seems like a
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ToxGuy's Opinion
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07/16/2016
Yes, because we can totally trust the media not to bastardize the whole event in order to sell a paper.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedMarch 18th, 2015

What is Senate Bill S. 783?

This bill would allow the judge of a U.S. appeals or district 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.

The district court’s authority under this bill would be terminated three years after the enactment of this bill. 

Impact

People interested in real-life court drama, parties to trials in federal court, witnesses, jurors, attorneys, judges, court employees, members of the media, the Judicial Conference, and federal district courts.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 783

$5.00 Million
A CBO cost estimate from the current session of Congress is unavailable. An estimate done during the 112th Congress when this legislation was last introduced projected that implementing the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act would cost $5 million over the 2012-2016 period.

More Information

In-Depth:

The Sunshine in the Courtroom Act has a relatively long history. It has been introduced in Congress in 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2013. Despite its repeated appearances, Congress has never been able to agree to a version of the bill that will pass.

State courts have allowed cameras in their courtrooms since a 1981 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Chandler v. Florida, allowed them to do so in criminal trials. The American Bar Association Journal notes that the state supreme courts of all 50 states allow TV cameras, with varying restrictions.

Photography, recordings, and broadcasts on either TV or radio have been banned in federal courts since 1972. Since then, there have been pilot programs introduced in 1990 and in 2010 that made provisions to allow broadcasting and recording from federal courtrooms. After the 1990 pilot program concluded, the Judicial Conference recommended the ban continue, and that districts which had changed their rules during the pilot programs revert to camera-free courtrooms.

The current pilot program is authorized by the Judicial Conference, includes 14 federal courts, and all parties involved in a given case must agree to the use of cameras. Two current Supreme Court justices have opined on the issue. Justice Anthony Kennedy expressed skepticism that cameras are in the best interest of the judicial system, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg supports the change.

Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

AKA

Sunshine in the Courtroom Act of 2015

Official Title

A bill to provide for media coverage of Federal court proceedings.

    Checks and balances people! We have a right to monitor our officials and the system at large. Federal courts hold great power and must be held accountable.
    Like (11)
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    While I agree that there needs to be more transpacy with some of the decisions that are being made. But having the trail filmed will create the atmosphere that everyone who attends those trails needs to put on a show. Although the only court cases I feel should be recorded should be the Supreme Court since what it decided there would be come apart of the law of the land
    Like (6)
    Follow
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    It's the modern era now. There should be digital photographs of court cases to have a more accurate account of previous trials.
    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
    We need the photographic record anyway as it allows review of body language that is one more way to reveal guilt.
    Like (9)
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    Read up on prosecutorial abuses. Transparency almost all ways keeps things more honest.
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    As long as jurors and witnesses' identities are protected. Obscured is not enough - no likeness of them should be permitted to be filmed.
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    As long as when something that may endanger a witness or private citizens. I think it would be good to see how the court system especially here in NC is almost an assembly line for the poor in this county. I have had attorneys actually tell me that you have no issues because you are white make 6 figures and that if I were poor white or black it be a different story. Typical good ole boys club.
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    Transparency is always a good thing! The protections within the bill appear to be well thought out...
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    I don't know, don't really find a problem with cameras in the courtroom. Although!!!, There should be cameras & brodcasts of Meetings of Congress, etc. As when Bush & all advisors decided to go into war in Iraq or when they granted Bush the right to do what he wants, which his plan was to go to war. Documentation, as cameras, of all that & brodcast. This is asupposed Democracy no!? Seems like a
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    Of course! Increasing the action of broadcasting in both federal and state trials will ensure the ability that altercation is civilized, and constitutional matter. Furthermore, if this proposal were to be implemented it would result in an affordable costing action of only five million dollars which may seem harshly priced but in reality it's a affordable implementation on the tax payers expense and the funding of the federal government as well. Additionally, this proposal exemplifies that technological resources incorporating broadcasting positively influence the law aspect in the United States Courts. The attempt to make a justification that broadcasting federal or state trails would violate the civil liberties and individual rights of the prosecution, defense, jury, witness, judge, etc is simply irrelevant, absurd and clearly a incorrect claim. The Primary source document to support this manner originates for those that have read the significance of this bill in the details column (No Offense). As explicitly stated if our colleagues in local state government or federal courts feel that broadcasting may Infringe ones rights they may quote "A judge could also obscure the face and voice of a witness if there is a good reason to believe that broadcasting their features may threaten": 1. The witnesses Safety. 2.The security of the court. 3. The integrity of ongoing or future law enforcement operations. 4. The Interest Of justice To reiterate, As I quickly glance at this proposal by the House of Representatives I see a low costing implementation to benefit the civil arguments occurring in both state and federal trials and MOST IMPORTANTLY TO ESNURE THAT THE COURTS AND INDIVIDUALS IN THE TRIAL UPHOLD THE RULE OF LAW AS WELL! Lastly, Attorneys will still have the authority to declare and prohibit the invasion of privacy exploiting ones individual rights by quote "S. 405 would also prohibit the broadcasting of conferences between attorneys and their clients". Ratifying this proposal or even promoting it without laws passed seems evident as a respect to the rule of law. Although, to veto this proposal would exemplify incompetence on our nations behalf demonizing the RULE OF LAW and POOR- JUDGEMENT AS WELL. It seems like a reasonable request to properly monitor altercation in a civilized manner not obstructing ones individual rights/civil liberties and should for you as well if you truly value that ALL UPHOLD THE LAW AND CONDUCT CIVILIZED ARGUMENTS. It's time we utilize our modern technological resources to ensure civilized law arguments and practices. Thank you for your time.
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    Yes, because we can totally trust the media not to bastardize the whole event in order to sell a paper.
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    As long as the vulnerable parties have the ability to block or obscure their place in the public view, I do not see compelling reasons to keep cameras out. Although, even though the cost is small, additional court cost burdens could be enough just to keep saying no. But then congress would just burn more time and money later to bring up a slightly different bill later.
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    We don't need actors in court rooms.
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    Accountability. If you believe what you say, and it backs your stance; own it.
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    Since the Constitution REQUIRES trial by jury in nearly all cases, having cameras in the court would be a great way to assure that the judges do not interfere. In the American judicial system under the Constitution, judges are just there to make sure the jury can hear the case, nothing more. This will help to get judges in line, no matter which end of the political spectrum they are on.
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    This bill contains all of the safeguards that opponents are whining about. Also, judges have the right to decide whether or not to allow cameras into the courtroom, they are not being forced to do so.
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    The point of the federal courts is that they are detached from public opinion.
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    Maybe some of our judges would behave better and give out more appropriate sentences.
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    Cameras should not be in court as the innocent needs protection. A picture of the guilty can be approved in the case of a guilty verdict.
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    Legal proceedings are not REALITY TV OR ENTERTAINMENT. This is intrusive & unnecessary..
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