Gavel Grab

Report: Cameramen Seen as ‘Commonplace’ in Wisconsin Court

As Illinois tries out a pilot project for cameras in the courtroom, the successful experiences of two neighboring states may be enlightening, a Chicago Tribune article suggests.

Reporter Ted Gregory wrote that at a recent sentencing hearing in Wisconsin, where cameras have been allowed in the courtroom for a generation, witnesses testifying on behalf of both the defendant and the victim voiced comfort with the TV cameras.

“The two photographers covering the … sentencing from the jury box were viewed as being as commonplace as the chairs they occupied,” he wrote in the article, which was headlined, “Few camera problems in Wisconsin courts: As Illinois begins pilot program, neighbors to the north give positive report.”

Trial lawyer Terry W. Rose, who represented the defendant in the Kenosha, Wisc. proceeding, said camera coverage in the courtroom “is quite well-controlled” and impartial. He also spoke about an educational benefit, saying  ”there’s no reason why the courtroom should be subject to speculation and mystery,” and that “everybody’s on their best behavior” when cameras are present in court.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson said the practice of permitting TV cameras in state courts has “been working very, very well,” yet it requires “constant communication between the court and the media.”

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