Photographic and video evidence can be extremely effective in legal proceedings. With the proliferation of surveillance cameras and smartphones in everyone's pockets, potential evidence is everywhere and easily accessible. With this availability, all legal claims seem to incorporate photos or videos. But are photographic and video evidence always admissible in court? What are the hazards to consider when using these tests? During the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the court began allowing the public to listen in real time.
For the presentation of evidence, to perpetuate the record of the process, for security reasons, for other purposes of judicial administration, to photograph, record or disseminate appellate arguments, or in accordance with pilot programs approved by the Judicial Conference. Unless otherwise provided by law or these regulations, the court must not allow photographs to be taken in the courtroom during court proceedings or for court proceedings to be transmitted from the courtroom. This week, news cycles have been consumed by the Supreme Court's oral arguments about two closely watched legal battles in recent history, but unlike virtually every other news on the planet these days, there were no images or videos because cameras are not allowed in Supreme Court proceedings. Of course, it's in the media's interest to be allowed to report, and news organizations often ask courts to allow cameras, invoking the First Amendment's right to public information or the Sixth Amendment's right to a public trial.
All appellate courts were granted the power to allow their oral arguments to be televised if they so chose. However, there are several members of the current Court who have expressed their desire to allow the presence of cameras in the proceedings or, at least, some interest in considering the idea. The Federal Criminal Procedure Regulations provide 53: Unless otherwise provided by law or these regulations, the court must not allow photographs to be taken in the courtroom during court proceedings or for court proceedings to be transmitted from the courtroom. The Indiana Court of Appeals participated in this program and allowed the media to cover oral arguments before the three panel judges.
Upon entering this sacred sanctuary, where people's lives, freedom and property are in danger, television representatives only have the rights of the general public, namely, to be present, to observe the performances and, later, if they so wish, to denounce them. Based on its previous statements, the Court is divided four to three in favor of not allowing cameras, but those two undecided votes could tilt the majority in favor of allowing them. Therefore, allowing cameras would break some kind of precedent and maybe the judges wouldn't care, unless they were interested. In the United States, photography and broadcasting are allowed in some courtrooms, but not in others.
The district court must allow the judicial proceedings presided over by that judge to be photographed, electronically recorded, transmitted or televised to the public.