Presiding Judges Allowed to Set Conditions for Each Request
Hamilton County’s Circuit and Superior Courts will begin allowing cameras in their courtrooms. The Indiana Supreme Court has given trial court judges the authority to decide whether or not to accept requests for cameras in their courtrooms.
“We are constitutionally required to have open courtrooms to ensure courts don’t abuse their powers” says Superior Court No. 5 Judge David Najjar. “Allowing cameras in the courtroom is another way to ensure our proceedings are public and to allow citizens to watch the work we do and how we do it.”
Up until now, Indiana and Louisiana were the only two states in the nation to not allow cameras in the court.
“COVID brought cameras into just about every courtroom,” Judge Najjar adds. “Live streaming became a necessity when our judicial buildings were closed to ensure we created a public forum and keep courts open to the public. So, a lot of that initial resistance to cameras in the courtroom went by the wayside. There will still be some judges who are hesitant to the idea, but there are others who are very eager to open their courtrooms and let the media in.”
Under Hamilton County’s rules, the media must request camera coverage from the presiding judge at least five days ahead of the proceeding, except for court hearings in which Zoom or another Internet platform is being used. The presiding judge may then decide if they will or will not allow cameras and can set any conditions they deem appropriate. The judge can also prohibit, limit, or terminate media coverage or testimony of particular witnesses at any time and for any reason.
Media will also be forbidden to film members of the jury, juveniles, and victims of violence, sex crimes, or domestic abuse. Only broadcast and print media and their professional associations can use cameras in court. Members of the general public, including independent bloggers, are not allowed under the rule.
Those interested in requesting camera coverage in Hamilton County can find the rules and the application at https://bit.ly/3NKJPq3.