Electronic media access to the courts: permission denied
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] The public, and the press have, a First Amendment right to attend trials but the same is not true for their electronic brethren if they want to use their tools of the trade. They must request permission from the presiding judge to attend trials using cameras and microphones, and the judge has discretion whether or not to grant permission. The American Bar Association passed Canon 35 in 1937 barring still photographers, radio reporters, newsreel cameramen - and later television cameramen - from taking photographs in the courtroom or broadcasting court proceedings because that "was calculated to detract from the essential dignity of the proceedings, degrade the court and create misconception with respect thereto in the mind of the public." For more than 30 years that ban remained in effect in all states except Colorado and Texas. In the 1970s states started opening up and experimenting with granting access to trials for members of the electronic media again. In 2012, all 50 states have court rules that allow electronic media access to the courts, but the degree of access varies quite a bit from a presumption of access to rules that are so restrictive that they essentially prevent coverage. Through a triangulation of historical, legal and survey methodologies, this study sought to find out how prevalent electronic media access is in the courts today even though every state has court rules that allow access. The results of this study informed a normative argument that the U.S. Supreme Court should once again address the issue of "cameras in the courts" and resolve inconsistencies among various First Amendment findings that would include members of the electronic media under the umbrella of First Amendment rights.
Access is limited to the campus of the University of Missouri--Columbia.