Friday, June 24, 2005
In 2001 Court TV filed a lawsuit against Robert Morgenthau, then DA of New York County and against the State of New York to test whether section 52 of the Civil Rights Law banning cameras in the courtroom was constitutional. In July of 2003 the lower court issued a ruling finding that "the Court declines to establish a constitutional rule in New York granting the media a right to televise court proceedings. The record in consistent with the traditional approach of New York courts to public access questions...The record also is consistent with New York's statutory scheme which guarantees public trials, but gives primacy to fair trial rights. Moreover, to the extent any chamges to the statutory scheme have been put into experimental use, these were intitiated and reviewed by the Legislature."
Court TV argued to the New York State Court of Appeals that the First Amendment gives the press and the public "a right of access to trial proceedings" and that cameras are a commonplace extension of this right. The appellate court rejected this argument, as it also rejected the network's constitutional argument based on the New York state constitution. In both cases, the appellate court found that the press's right to attend trials is no greater than that of the general public. Should the legislature choose to extend coverage of trials via cameras, said the court, it certainly has that power.
Read a News Media Update piece here.
Read the decision of the court here.