Jurisdiction not camera shy

July 31, 2008
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Indianapolis documentary filmmaker Karen Grau’s request to film juvenile court proceedings in Lake County has been granted by the Indiana Supreme Court. Grau is no stranger to Indiana’s juvenile courts, as she has already worked on several documentaries with Lake Juvenile Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura, whose courtroom will be featured again in this latest documentary.

Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard said the court agreed to allow Grau’s cameras in again with the understanding her six-part series would shed light on the concerns facing the courts and children served by the court. Keeping people informed about the issues facing the juvenile justice system is a valid reason to allow proceedings to be taped, he said.

Grau has been allowed access to Indiana’s courtrooms numerous times over the years and has managed to always find participants willing to sign release forms to be in documentaries.

Indiana’s Cameras in the Courtroom pilot project that wrapped up at the end of last year wasn’t so lucky. In the project’s 18-month span, only six proceedings in the eight designated courts were filmed. Getting consent from all the parties – especially from defendants – proved difficult.

What is it about Grau’s documentaries that allow her to find participants, whereas the Supreme Court’s pilot project struggled to get just six proceedings taped? Is it that there is hope that filming juvenile proceedings will cause other young people to straighten up before they commit crimes or become criminals as adults, whereas the cameras in the courtroom project will be more of an informational tool for the general public about how the courts system works?
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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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