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N.H. court raises bar on cameras in courtroom

The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled last week that state judges cannot bar
cameras from their courtrooms without factual reasons, rather than merely
speculative concerns.

The court said, "Fear of jurors being exposed to potentially prejudicial
information or of witnesses being exposed to the testimony of other witnesses
generally will not be a valid basis for denying electronic coverage."

That reason was among those cited in a Virginia court decision last week
barring video cameras from the trial of accused Washington, D.C., sniper John Muhammad.

Barbara Cochran, president of the Radio-Television News Directors
Association, which has lobbied extensively to allow video cameras into
courtrooms, noted, "The court not only ruled in favor of bringing cameras
into the court, but also makes it clear that a decision to keep cameras out must be
based on fact, not guesswork."

The New Hampshire decision came in a trial in which a teen-ager is accused of
murdering two Dartmouth professors.