Minnesota high court to hear debate on cameras in courtroom

Published 5:51 pm Friday, September 16, 2022

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ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether to permanently allow cameras in the courtroom, following trials by ex-police officers Derek Chauvin and Kim Potter that were watched by millions of people around the world.

An advisory committee of Minnesota judges, attorneys and court personnel is recommending the court continue its routine of keeping out cameras. Minnesota media outlets and advocacy groups say it’s time for the state to embrace the technology like neighboring Iowa, Wisconsin and North Dakota.

Minnesota’s top court is scheduled to hear arguments on the issue Tuesday.

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Presiding Hennepin County District Court judges were initially opposed to cameras in the courtroom for the trials of Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd and of Potter in the killing of Daunte Wright. Both judges, Peter Cahill and Regina Chu, changed their minds in part because of immense public interest and COVID-19 limitations.

Media and government organizations, along with Cahill, sent letters to the Supreme Court in support of expanded camera access. Victims’ rights groups, public defenders, defense attorneys and prosecutors are opposed, the Star Tribune reported.

“The fact of the matter is that these are incredibly emotional times, difficult times for all the parties that are involved,” said Minnesota State Public Defender Bill Ward. “Justice should not be a spectator sport and should not be something that’s sensationalized in the news media.”

Mankato Free Press Managing Editor Joe Spear wrote to the court that the presence of a camera doesn’t change the truth.

“It only shines more light on it,” he said.