Thursday, March 6, 2008
Cameras In The Courtroom Bill Approved By Senate Panel
The Senate Judiciary Committee today passed out a bill that would allow TV coverage of all federal courts.
The comittee has approved similar bills on several occasions in recent years but the legislation, known as the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act, has never been close to becoming law.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., (pictured) narrowly failed in his attempt to exempt district courts.
His amendment failed on a 9-9 tie.
Cardin had argued that while there is a need to show the inner workings of the appellate process, especially the Supreme Court, trials in district court are more problematic.
That's because the media would not cover trials from gavel to gavel, he said.
But the bill's sponsors fought back, noting that the latest version of the legislation allows trial judges to exclude the cameras in certain instances, such as to protect witnesses and minors.
Sen. John Cornyn, D-Texas, added that coverage of trials would help the American people understand that trials are a lot more complex - and less entertaining - than legal TV dramas make them appear.
"I think it's important for them to see what happens," Cornyn said of the public.
A House version of the bill has already been approved by the judiciary committee.
*At this morning's meeting, the committee also approved the Sunshine in Litigation Act, a bill that place limits on secret settlements when public safety is an issue.