The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists and Minnesota Coalition on Government Information commend state Supreme Court Chief Justice Lori Gildea and the Supreme Court Advisory Committee for allowing more camera access inside the state’s courtrooms. Now we need the help of journalists and activists across Minnesota to demonstrate to the courts that it is possible to respectfully record proceedings in a visual manner, and for the good of everyone.
How can you help? Make yourselves available in the state’s criminal courts–even under the present limited rules–and take video, shoot photos, and cover meaningful news.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, and include the hashtag #SunshineMN in your tweet, to let us know about what you’ve produced from your court appearances. We’ll include links to your work on a soon-to-be-created webpage to highlight the work being done around the state.
It won’t be easy with all the limitations of the two-year pilot, but it promises to provide the public with a glimpse of court proceedings they rarely see in our state.
Here’s a summary of the new rules:
- You still need to give the judge advance notice, and judges have a great deal of discretion over whether to grant permission.
- You still cannot film anything going on when the jury is present. (Though, a sentencing hearing is a possibility.)
- The good news now is that you at least don’t need permission of all the parties in the case–just the judge.
- Victims cannot be filmed testifying without their permission. But that would usually happen in front of a jury anyway, and would be presently off limits.
- Read the full court order here.
We have already had some success with cameras allowed during civil cases–the pilot pushed by journalists and legal advocates that preceded this one– which is now permanently adopted. Let’s make this ruling permanent, too, and achieve even more access.
We are on the cusp of a historic change in how court journalism is practiced in Minnesota. It’s up to us to now follow through and deliver on the promise. So let’s get to work!
President Emeritus, MNSPJ