FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — After an Indiana Supreme Court ruling, cameras were officially allowed inside Indiana courtrooms on Monday.
Under the new policy, judges can choose whether cameras are allowed in on a case-by-case basis.
In Allen County, media outlets have to request to bring recording devices in for certain cases at least 48 hours before they begin.
Video of police informants, jurors, children or certain other witnesses cannot be shown.
The access of cameras will also be mainly limited to criminal and civil proceedings. Family matters that have a lot of confidential case matter will usually be denied.
John McGauley, Court Executive for Allen Superior Court, told WANE 15 that the first day with cameras seemed to go smoothly and it was the first of many days with the new allowed access to come.
“The courts are mysterious, in large part, because people can’t see unless they come to the courthouse and sit in a courtroom and see what’s going on,” McGauley said. “If we do anything by opening up the courtrooms, the cameras, hopefully we make it a little less mysterious, people feel like the process is a little bit more transparent, and more accessible, and if that’s all we get done then it’s a victory for everybody.”
McGauley added that there have been at least two trial projects with cameras in courtrooms to test the viability of the process from a procedural standpoint.
The new change allows media outlets like WANE 15 to better show what happens during court proceedings rather than reporting about it with no physical evidence.
McGauley believes judges, prosecutors and attorneys all seemed to have no issues with the pilot projects.
“Our past experience with the pilot projects that have gone on here have been very positive. We get along great with our media, our legal practitioners in the community. They didn’t seem to react in any kind of negative way to it, but it’s all going to be a learning experience. There’s a big difference between a pilot project and doing it every day. We are just getting started today and all the learning is yet to come,” he added.
In a statement sent to WANE 15, Allen County’s prosecutor Michael McAlexander shared concerns that people who should never be shown in the courtroom could still end up on camera.
The statement reads:
We have some concerns about disruptions to Court proceedings. We would prefer if the Courts want to make our courtrooms available, it would be better to have fixed placed cameras. We want to make sure that jurors, child victims, and other sensitive witnesses are not inadvertently disclosed via photographs or video. On the other hand, we believe that greater exposure to the criminal justice system will promote trust with the public and confidence in our criminal justice system. We have faith that our judges will exercise appropriate discretion as to what proceedings in cases are made available for cameras.Prosecutor Michael McAlexander
While media won’t be live streaming court proceedings, the new policy opens up the possibility of high profile cases getting exposure like they never have before.
Allen County Judge Fran Gull was assigned as a special judge in the high-profile Delphi murders investigation.
The ruling opens up the opportunity for requests to be submitted to have cameras in the courtroom when that trial begins.