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Panel Finds No Problems In Camera In Court Test

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – An advisory panel says it found no problems or complaints during a pilot project allowing cameras in some Minnesota courtrooms, and that the state Supreme Court should consider extending the test or making the rule changes permanent.

The project has allowed news organizations to use cameras and audio equipment during civil proceedings in trial courts, but not criminal cases where longstanding rules effectively shut them out. The court authorized the pilot project in 2011 in response to a petition from news organizations.

In a final report filed Tuesday, the committee said the test rules appeared to work well.

But the panel said the “most striking” aspect of the pilot was the lack of media requests to use cameras or recorders during the first 26 months. Out of around 20 to 25 requests, it said, about half resulted in some electronic coverage being allowed.

The report said the small number of covered cases, and the lack of any coverage of trial testimony or jury trials by broadcast media, means “that we have not learned as much as we might like.” The committee said it’s “not confident that the absence of reported problems means that real problems are not lurking.”

The panel also said it “may be appropriate” to permit electronic coverage of at least some criminal proceedings, such as first appearances and sentencing, and innovations such as drug and veterans’ courts. The committee said it has no opinion on those issues, except that they should be studied with “input from a broad group with diverse interests involved in the criminal justice system.”

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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