The pending trial of former President Donald Trump has sparked interest in the need to allow cameras in New York courtrooms. This issue has long vexed local stations. New York allowed cameras in the courtroom during a 10-year experiment. Despite there being no evidence of harm to the judicial process, the statute allowing cameras in the courtroom was allowed to lapse years ago. Today, it is possible for an individual judge to allow limited access, but those seeking to provide cameras in the courtroom bear a heavy burden. Most judges deny the media access to trials.
For years, NYSBA has supported legislation offered by Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal (S 160) (pictured above) and Assemblyman David Weprin (A 712) to allow cameras in the courtroom. The legislation takes on new meaning given the interest in the proceedings involving former President Donald Trump.
Sen Hoylman-Sigal hosted a press conference in New York City on Sunday. NYSBA President David Donovan was on hand to support the legislation. Donovan stated:
“Every day local radio and television stations provide essential news to all citizens of New York. Every day we are reporting on trials that take place in county courts across the state. However, citizens cannot see how the judiciary works and how justice is dispensed. Citizens want transparency in their government. Transparency is necessary for a democracy. While the trial of a former President has notoriety, the coverage of routine trials is essential. If people are to have faith in government institutions, there must be transparency. I hope Governor Hochul will consider adding this legislation to her budget package.”
We hope the bill can be included in the budget process, which will guarantee quick action. If it is taken out of the budget, we will continue to push for the bill during this legislative session. However, if the past is any indication, it will be an uphill task.
Former President Trump’s attorneys have asked that cameras not be allowed in the courtroom when he is arraigned today. NYSBA has supported this legislation for years. Hopefully, the time has come for the legislation to pass.
You can see a copy of the legislation here.
A good story about the issue in New York appeared in Politico here.