What are the rules for cameras in Minnesota courtrooms? – WCCO

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Next week, three former Minneapolis police officers will stand trial in federal court for violating the civil rights of George Floyd.

There will be no cameras in the courtroom, which is different from Derek Chauvin’s trial which was broadcast live around the world.

READ MORE: Experts expect 3 MPD officers charged by the federal government in the death of George Floyd to testify

Since the 1979 trial of serial killer Ted Bundy in California, we have followed several cases across the country: the trial of Casey Anthony in Florida; the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse in Wisconsin; The trial of Travis and Greg McMichael in Georgia.

WCCO spoke on the topic of cameras in Minnesota courtrooms with Jane Kirtley, Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota. She says access to the camera, until recently, was “non-existent”.

In Minnesota, all parties must agree to let cameras into criminal trials.

“And invariably someone would object, and that would be the end of the discussion,” Kirtley said.

She says that compared to other states, Minnesota is “extremely unusual.”

“There are only a handful of states that have rules as restrictive as Minnesota’s,” she said.

But that all changed with the dawn of COVID-19. The courtrooms are small, fewer people could attend, so we saw the live broadcast of Kim Potter’s case after Chauvin’s trial – against the wishes of the prosecutor.

READ MORE: George Floyd case: Minnesota judge denies motion to reconsider live stream for trial of 3 former officers

(credit: CBS)

“Judges as judges [Peter] Cahill decided that if we were going to have meaningful public access, we had to have cameras in the courtroom,” Kirtley said.
And the news media – including WCCO – have played a big role in that change.

“It didn’t happen with a, you know, machine vision from Judge Cahill,” she said.

In most states, the issue of cameras in courts is decided by the state legislature. But not in Minnesota. The courts make that call.

It’s a different story at the federal level, where courtroom sketches are the norm — most recently on display at Ghislane Maxwell’s trial. And that’s what we’ll see next week in the federal civil rights trial of Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Keung and Tou Thao.

“Cameras are not permitted in federal trial courts,” Kirtley said.

And there hasn’t been much movement to change that, but the Minnesota Supreme Court has asked a committee to consider expanding the camera rules.

“There was a huge shift in tone,” Kirtley said. “I’m not saying it’s 100 per cent, but I think compared to where we were in 2014, for example, it’s a seismic shift.”

NO MORE NEWS: 3 former MPD officers will stand trial on January 20 for the death of George Floyd

This committee, which advises the Supreme Court, must submit recommendations by July. In the meantime, it’s still up to the judge to give final approval on the finer details, like which witnesses will appear on camera, whether it can be broadcast live, or where the cameras are placed to best protect the anonymity of the jury.

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