MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Supreme Court says it’s time to consider whether audio and video coverage of criminal proceedings should be expanded to accommodate broader public access.

On Thursday, the court issued an order directing the Advisory committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure to consider if the current requirements should be modified or expanded in the state. The court says audio and video coverage has been a critical component of public access during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it provided increased transparency and accessibility during restrictions brought on by the pandemic.

“Public interest in and access to judicial proceedings is vital to the fair, open, and impartial administration of justice,” Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea said. “Technology allowed us to keep a window to our courts open during the pandemic, and provides us with the opportunity to ensure accessibility and transparency of our public proceedings. The time is right to consider whether the current requirements for audio and video coverage of criminal proceedings in courtrooms should be amended to accommodate broader public access.”

The current requirements were last updated in 2018 following a two-year pilot project that resulted in expanded media coverage of criminal proceedings.

“Rule 4 of the General Results of Practice currently authorizes audio and video coverage in certain criminal proceedings in district court. Coverage is allowed with the consent of all parties before a guilty plea has been accepted or a guilty verdict is returned. After a guilty plea is accepted or a guilty verdict is returned, coverage is allowed without the consent of the parties unless the judge finds good cause to prohibit coverage,” the court said.

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Under the court’s order, the committee will review the rules currently in the books and update information gathered during the previous pilot project. Then, the committee will determine if the requirements for audio and video coverage of criminal proceedings should be modified or expanded.

A report with recommendations is expected by July 1, 2022. A public comment period is expected to follow before the court adopts any permanent rule changes.