Starting today, Municipal Judge George Parker of Mason, Ohio, will broadcast criminal cases live on local cable stations, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. It’s part of Parker’s effort to educate the public about how the court system works. “He’s dedicated to the education of young people as related to the judiciary,” said Clerk of Court William Scherpenberg. “He considers this an educational phenomenon. Students can tie into (the broadcast through) the school system and see what goes on in court.” Mason will likely be the first trial court in Ohio to broadcast live. The experimental program will run for 60 days, then be re-evaluated. It does not cost taxpayer money.
Ohio news media are allowed to tape proceedings at a judge’s discretion, but court-initiated broadcasts are rare. The Ohio Supreme Court broadcasts its proceedings live on a statewide cable channel. It also offers streaming Internet access. The Mason taping will be handled by the Intercommunity Cable Regulatory Commission, a nonprofit organization that provides cable programming for 29 communities in Greater Cincinnati. The broadcasts will air in real time on Time Warner Cable to about 70,000 homes. Prosecutor Robert Peeler said he has some concerns about the rights of victims and families. “I want to see how it works,” he said. “I don’t want to criticize it because it may be a good idea. It’s something that should be approached cautiously.” Scherpenberg said it might serve as a crime deterrent because people will be embarrassed about appearing on television.