Thursday, September 16, 2010

Coming Soon to the Small Screen: Federal Court Trials

The Supreme Court of the United States. Washin...Image via Wikipedia
The Judicial Conference, the 27-member federal court system policymaker presided over by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, has approved a three-year pilot program that will permit televising certain federal civil trials, according to a press release.

Final details are still being hashed out, but any broadcast will not permit the recording of the faces of jurors or witnesses, and any party to a case can opt out of the trial being aired. The pilot program was sparked by the recent Supreme Court's 5-4 vote overturning U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Judge Vaughn Walker's order that would have permitted the telecast of the trial of the Proposition 8 same-sex marriage ban.

Participation in the nationwide pilot project is at the discretion of presiding federal court judges. No entitities, other than participating courts, would be permitted to record proceedings. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second and Ninth Circuits allow oral arguments to be televised. Since 1946, federal criminal proceedings have not been covered by electronic media pursuant to Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

"TUOL" doesn't expect to see members of the High Court spending time in the make-up chair any time soon.
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