Mississippi Courts To Test Cameras


You can now spell Mississippi with another eye, the electronic kind. The Mississippi Supreme Court last week adopted new rules permitting a test of broadcast pool coverage of some state courtrooms, trial and appeals, including its own (the high court had already allowed a Webcasting feed of its proceedings).

The test begins July 1 and ends Dec. 31, 2004, but can be extended.

At the discretion of the judge, "television, radio, photographic, recording or other electronic devices" will be allowed in the state Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, chancery courts, circuit courts and county courts. Excluded will be municipal courts and justice (small-claims) courts, whose proceedings are not transcribed for appeal purposes.

Coverage also excludes photographing jurors or potential jurors, and certain kinds of trials—such as divorce, child-custody and domestic-abuse and "in camera" proceedings (those before a judge in chambers or a cleared courtroom)—are also excluded.

The Mississippi Supreme Court has allowed Webcasting of its proceedings since 2001, with the feed also available to broadcasters, but this is the first time it has opened its trial courts to the electronic press.

For a state-by-state outline of where cameras are allowed, check out http://www.rtnda.org/foi/scc.shtml.