Supreme Court gives judges discretion to allow broadcasting in court

IL file illustration

Indiana judges will have the discretion to allow news media to broadcast court proceedings under a rule amendment that will take effect in May.

Effective May 1, Rule 2.17 of the Code of Judicial Conduct will allow judges to authorize “the broadcasting, televising, recording, digital streaming, or photographing of court proceedings or the courtroom by members of the news media” under certain conditions. The current version of Rule 2.17 prohibits all broadcasting, recording or photographing of court proceedings or the area near courtrooms without prior approval from the Indiana Supreme Court.

“This is the culmination of years of work and pilot projects with discussion and evaluation,” Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush said in a news release announcing the rule amendment. “Trial court judges are in the best position to determine how to balance the importance of transparency while protecting the rights of people involved in a court matter.”

While the amended rule will allow cameras in courtrooms, judges have ultimate discretion over whether to permit broadcasting. And the amendment does provide for certain prohibitions, including limiting broadcasting to nonconfidential proceedings, prohibiting showing minors and jurors on camera, and defining “news media” pursuant to Indiana Code § 34-46-4-1.

Also, judges can revoke a broadcasting authorization at any time and for any reason.

Five judges opened their courtrooms for a four-month pilot program, providing “essential” feedback, according to the Supreme Court. The court also accepted and reviewed public comment.

Additionally, the Indiana Judicial Conference Community Relations Committee and Court Security Committee, Hoosier State Press Association and Indiana Broadcasters Association were part of the effort to authorize cameras in courts.

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