Monday, January 23, 2012

Lights, Camera, Action – All in a Criminal Courtroom

People arrested for the first time may believe that they have a right to be shielded from the media’s flashbulbs and camera lenses when inside of a courtroom attending a hearing, including at their first court appearance, legally known as an “arraignment.”  As made clear in a recent Connecticut Law Tribune article, however, in Connecticut this is not true.
Beginning January 2012, the Connecticut Judicial Branch has instituted an expansive set of new and revised rules governing media attendance at state court criminal proceedings.  See Practice Book §§ 1-10A, 1-10B, 1-11.  The breadth of the change in the Judicial Branch’s policy is evident from the fact that the old rules stated that courts should prohibit media from broadcasting criminal proceedings, whereas the new rule explicitly provides that “[t]he broadcasting, televising, recording or photographing by the media of court proceedings and trials in the superior court should be allowed,” subject to certain restrictions.  Practice Book § 1-10B (a).  The new provisions also contain procedures for the media to file a request to attend a defendant’s arraignment and to have one still photographer, one cameraman and/or one audio recording device record the proceeding.  Practice Book § 1-11A.  The new rules, however, do not apply to certain types of cases, such as juveniles or sex crimes.  Practice Book § 1-10B.  For the time being, those defendants retain a right to privacy inside of a courtroom.
If a person commits a crime, they should now expect the media to be present not only at their front door or the door to the courthouse but also inside the courtroom, capturing every minute of what for most people are the worst moments of their lives.

Questions or comments? Contact Attorney Cantor.