Is An Absolute Ban on Audio-Visual Coverage In the Courtroom Unconstitutional ?
In Estes v. Texas (381 US 532 ) Justice Harlan stated:
"Finally, we should not be deterred from making the constitutional judgment which this case demands by the prospect that the day may come when television will have become so commonplace an affair in the daily life of the average person as to dissipate all reasonable likelihood that its use in courtrooms may disparage the judicial process.
If and when that day arrives the constitutional judgment called for now would of course be subject to re-examination in accordance with the traditional workings of the Due Process Clause."
It is now the year 2000 and although 48 other States have some form of audio-visual coverage in the courtroom and 37 televise trials, New York has an absolute ban on cameras in the courtroom.
This ban arises not from scholarly debate but rather the resurrection of a 1952 statute and the failure of the Legislature to maximize the press and public's legitimate constitutional access to the courts.
This court is not holding there is an unfettered right to televise all aspects of every proceeding.
However, this court does find that section 52 of the Civil Rights Law, as an absolute ban on audio-visual coverage in the courtroom, is unconstitutional.