Utah courtrooms are becoming a little more open and transparent today. Members of the public are now allowed to bring cell phones, laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices into Utah courtrooms.
The new rules also affect the media. From now on local TV stations will be able to bring in their cameras to record the court proceedings. Utah Courts spokesperson Nancy Volmer says while some judges had concerns about lawyers playing to the cameras, they hope the increased access will help better educate the public.
“So it’s our hope that by opening the courtroom to TV cameras and broadcasting that the public is going to have a better understanding of its court system," she says. "And in turn, by having a better understanding, the public will have more trust and confidence in the judiciary.”
BYU Communications professor and open access advocate Joel Campbell says the increased access is a great step forward but it also gives the media greater responsibility that he hopes they’ll take seriously.
“This is also a test of good faith. I think the media needs to remember that they are serving the public and not necessarily the ratings,” he says.
Judges still have the option to not allow cameras in the courtroom if they have a valid concern for the safety or privacy of victims or witnesses.