The U.S. District Court in Massachusetts is proposing a rule change that would allow cameras in federal courtrooms. The proposed rule would expressly authorize judges to permit the transmission of court proceedings by broadcast and via the Internet.
The proposal is a response to the decision of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in In re Sony BMG Music Entertainment, where the appeals court ruled that the District Court's current rule blocked U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner from allowing a music-download case to be webcast.
The proposed changes to the rule would still prohibit cameras in most instances. It would give judges discretion to permit cameras and to place "such limitations and restrictions" on their use as the judge deems appropriate. The rule would also authorize the judge to place restrictions on the use and additional dissemination of the broadcast.
In any case where cameras are allowed, the rule would prohibit them from showing jurors. The rule would allow witnesses and litigants to opt out of being photographed. Also prohibited would be use of cameras to capture sidebar conferences with the judge or discussions between lawyers and their clients.
The court is accepting public comment on the proposed rule until tomorrow, April 16, after which it will decide whether to adopt it.