Cameras in the Courtroom, Essay Example

Cameras have not always been allowed inside the courtroom during the judicial court hearing process. The trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann for the kidnapping and murder of the infant son of Charles Lindbergh was the first court case to cause heightened controversy over cameras inside courtrooms. The court was shocked by the sensational coverage of the trial- and after the trial ended, the American Bar Association (ABA) recommended in 1937 that all courtroom photography be eliminated. By 1962, only Texas and Colorado permitted cameras and broadcasting the courtroom.

In 1965, a trial between Billy Sol Estes and the state of Texas rekindled the controversy over whether or not photography should be permitted in the courtroom. Five justices voted on whether or not to allow broadcasting of this trial to be permitted- only four out of the five agreed that all forms of photography and broadcasting be prohibited.

Although only one judge took the lone view that some type of media broadcasting should be permitted, this historical case gave way for other judges to make similar decisions. In 1981 Chief Justice Warren Burger from Florida made a ruling for cameras to be allowed in the court during the case of Chandler v. Florida.

During the 1990s a number of state courts experimented with cameras inside the courtroom. Closed-circuit broadcasting was allowed during the famous trials of Timothy McVeigh, accused with the Oklahoma bombings and Zacarias Moussaoui, associated with the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Currently all fifty states allow some form of photographic coverage during a trial. A trend is growing in this technological day and age bringing more and more photography and media into the courtroom. Despite the fact that the judge always has the rule over whether or not media will be permitted during a trial, gradually we are making more progress towards allowing cameras inside the courtroom. I agree with the fact that there should not be a blanket rule on whether or not cameras are allowed inside courtrooms. Each case is different and the factors of the case should be taken into consideration heavily before allowing someone to photograph or broadcast the case to the public during or even after the trial.


Peak, K. J. (2010). Justice administration: Police, courts, and corrections management (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.