The State of Florida, and this state’s entire judicial system have been recognized across the country and indeed around the world for being champions of open and accessible government and for supporting the rights of all citizens to document the important functions of all levels of government. So powerful is this history that the nation’s preeminent open government organization, The Florida First Amendment Foundation is located in Tallahassee, just a few blocks away from Florida’s Supreme Court. Click here for FAF’s Website and Mission Statement.
This rich history of openness in the State of Florida supports that in his new era of Florida Courts moving to efficiently CLEAR THE FORECLOSURE DOCKET!, state leaders will support a campaign for consumers and journalists and citizens alike to take photographs and record video of Florida’s magnificently efficient Foreclosure Docket Clearing Initiatives! Yes, I’m sure that courts will apply the same principals articulated years ago to support consumes, journalists and citizens as they work to show the good work of our courts in action.
Not so long ago, the idea of having cameras in courtrooms was quite controversial. Can you imagine that? Just a few years ago, people actually thought that having cameras in courtrooms as a bad idea. But then an attorney widely known as Florida’s most accomplished lawyer brought a petition before the Florida Supreme Court that was quite controversial then, but which is a no brainer today….
ALLOW CAMERAS INTO FLORIDA’S COURTS!
Now, back then, all those years ago the issues the courts were addressing were the fact that cameras were big and bulky and got in the way of things. The good news is today, 2013, cameras are small and totally unobtrusive. Consumers and voters and citizens have the opportunity to record court proceedings, to take photographs and to preserve history in ways that are completely unobtrusive, do not interfere with the administration of justice and which will help to tell the story of how Florida’s courts are responding to the unprecedented challenges they are facing today. And while certainly the times were different a few years ago,
Listen to what former Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court said about cameras in the courtroom:
With remarkable wisdom, foresight, and courage, the Florida Supreme Court opened our state’s courtrooms to cameras and other electronic media 30 years ago this month. In one sense, that decision is honored every single day our courts are physically open as journalists in one part of Florida or another bring images and sounds of the work of real justice to the general public.
the Florida Supreme Court forged ahead and created what I would argue was and is the nation’s broadest rule allowing cameras into courtrooms. With the exception of certain categories of cases, such as juvenile proceedings, cameras are permitted. Judges can exclude or limit them only if one of the parties demonstrates that the cameras will cause harm. But the standard for demonstrating such harm is high, and lawyers for the media must have an opportunity to be heard in opposition.
We can and should take pride in those proceedings “” pride, of course, because the proceedings were properly conducted and properly focused “” but pride also because those proceedings were open, literally, to all. That’s a good thing, a very good thing “” for the people across our world who were intensely interested in what was happening, for the reputation of the judiciary, and for public confidence in our democracy.
And then read what Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Joseph Hatchett has to say about cameras in the courtroom:
As Florida celebrates 30 years of informing citizens of what occurs in its courtrooms, all of the arguments against cameras in courtrooms have proved to be wrong. No serious problems have arisen because of cameras in Florida courtrooms. Not one problem!
Cameras in Florida’s courtrooms have served well in educating Floridians and all Americans about the courts and the judiciary’s relationship to the executive and legislative branches. That is good!
Cameras in Florida courtrooms have been so beneficial that many suggest that the federal court system must now follow the Florida example.
Having pictures of important activities, especially after historic events, is priceless.
Proudly, Florida celebrates 30 years of cameras in courtrooms because cameras make better citizens knowledgeable and able to participate in bringing needed changes to courts and to the justice system
And here is the rule in place today…..
RULE 2.450. TECHNOLOGICAL COVERAGE OF JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS (a) Electronic and Still Photography Allowed. Subject at all times to the authority of the presiding judge to: (i) control the conduct of proceedings before the court; (ii) ensure decorum and prevent distractions; and (iii) ensure the fair administration of justice in the pending cause, electronic media and still photography coverage of public judicial proceedings in the appellate and trial courts of this state shall be allowed in accordance with the following standards of conduct and technology promulgated by the Supreme Court of Florida.