The House this week passed the "Secure Access To Justice and Court Protection Act," (H.R.1751) which includes provisions of the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act, a bill that would give federal trial and appellate judges the discretion to permit cameras and recording devices in their courtrooms on a three-year trial basis.
The bill, passed 375 to 45, and now goes to the Senate.
An amendment gives judges the discretion to permit cameras and recording devices in U.S. appellate and district courts. It allows for the obscuring of a witness' or juror's voice or image during trial proceedings and calls for further advisory guidelines for judges in making decisions with respect to how cameras and recording devices should be managed in the courtroom.
At a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the issue before the vote, Barbara Cochran, president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association testified on cameras and microphones in federal courts.
Following the vote, the White House released a statement in support of H.R.1751 but objected to the section on cameras in the courts saying, "While the administration understands the public interest in viewing trials, the Administration believes Section 22 has the potential to influence court proceedings unduly and to compromise the security of participants in the judicial process."