Cameras Still Barred From NY Courts

The New York State Court of Appeals has decided not to overturn a 1952 state law banning cameras in trial courts in the state.

Court TV had challenged the law as unconstitutional in oral arguments before the court April 27.

The appeals court pointed to various precedents in which other courts had ruled that the press had the same right of access to attend a trial as a member of the public, but no additional right to bring cameras into the court.

It also pointed out that the New York State legislature had tested cameras in the court four times, reviewed the findings and reports, all of which recommended allowing the cameras, then voted all four times to continue to exclude them, despite "the technological improvements to audiovisual equipment which renders its presence in courtrooms less intrusive."
"We will not circumscribe the authority constitutionally delegated to the legislature," it said.
While Court TV was disappointed, it was also buoyed by the court's suggestion that it was "more properly remedied by the legislature."

"We completely understand the court's reluctance to act in place of the legislature in providing a remedy to our state's citizens," said Court TV Chairman Henry Schleiff, "and hope that our legislative representatives will now respond accordingly in providing the same access to our trial courts as exists in the vast majority of our other states."

Currently, 39 states allow TV coverage of criminal trials.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.