Although the U.S. Supreme Court continues to impose an unequivocal ban on cameras in its courtroom, state courts are gradually moving toward transparency, reports Stateline. All 50 have declared a willingness to open up some court business to cameras, although the levels of openness vary from state to state. Within the last year, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Illinois have all amended their court procedures to be more camera-friendly.
Kathy Kirby, general counsel for the Radio, Television and Digital News Association, says these states are acting as part of a “slow and steady trend on the part of states to at least engage in experiments with cameras in the courtroom.” The Pennsylvania Supreme Court and South Dakota trial courts are now permanently opened to cameras, while Illinois and Minnesota are allowing cameras in trial courts as a pilot project. Other states are experimenting with online broadcasting. The highest courts in 37 states provide webcasts, video or audio recordings of their oral arguments online. Televised court proceedings first reached a mass audience in 1991 with CourtTV, the first cable network to air gavel-to-gavel coverage of trials.