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It's try, try again for cameras in federal courts

A bipartisan bill is being introduced to give federal judges the discretion
to permit cameras in their courts, both trial and appellate.

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are holding a press
conference Wednesday to take the wraps off the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act.

The bill would also require the Judicial Conference, the courts' governing
body, to draw up voluntary guidelines to help judges make the call on when and
under what circumstances cameras should be allowed.

According to the senators, 48 states permit some form of audio-video coverage
of courts and 37 allow televised trials.

"Studies and surveys conducted in many of those states have confirmed that
electronic media coverage of trials boosts public understanding of the court
system without interfering with court proceedings," they said in a
prepared statement.

Barbara Cochran, president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, added her support for the bill and said
she hoped the Senate and House would pass it, but she wasn't sanguine about its

The bill has been introduced numerous times before without success, she
pointed out.

That included when Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) was chairman of the Judiciary
Committee and he supported the bill.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who is now running the committee, has not been
in favor of it, Cochran said.