Editorial: Expanded access in the courtroom a step forward

Published 8:51 pm Friday, March 17, 2023

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The Minnesota Supreme Court this week expanded its rules regarding cameras in the courtroom during criminal trials.

In the past, cameras have been prohibited unless all parties and the judge consented, but starting in January, cameras will be allowed simply with the approval of the trial court judge.

The action came after what was deemed a success with the broadcasts of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and his conviction for murdering George Floyd.

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Five years before that, the rules had been eased to allow live and recorded coverage of sentencings with the approval of trial judges.

This week’s order, signed by Chief Justice Lorie Gildea, said the changes “will promote transparency and confidence in the basic fairness that is an essential component of our system of justice in Minnesota and protect the constitutional rights and safety of all participants in criminal proceedings in the State.”

Cameras will still not be able to be used in pretrial hearings, jury selection, in coverage of minor witnesses and defendants, and during the testimony of victims without their consent. Some restrictions will also remain in place for criminal sexual conduct and domestic abuse cases.

While there is still more work to be done, we applaud the Supreme Court for this decision and believe this is a huge step forward in adding more transparency to legal proceedings.

Thank you to media groups such as the Minnesota Newspaper Association and the Minnesota Broadcasters Association for lobbying the changes. It is a ruling that has been decades in the making.