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Two senators are trying to move cameras into federal courtrooms, a year after earlier legislation failed to come to a vote. The bill’s sponsors, Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said last week that it will be a tough battle getting the bill passed. “Make no mistake about it, it’s not like the judges are knocking down our door to pass this legislation,” Schumer said. Even so, federal courts must catch up with modern technology, he said. “Allowing cameras into the courtroom will bring the judicial system into the 21st century.” Forty-seven states allow cameras into their courtrooms, as do two of the 12 federal courts of appeals. “This is not a radical concept,” Schumer said. The bill, unchanged from the earlier proposal that failed in Congress last year, would give judges the option of allowing their proceedings to be televised and photographed. Opponents argue courtroom cameras would surround trials with increased sensationalism, lure lawyers into arguing for the cameras rather than the court, pressure judges to allow cameras in all trials, and do little to educate the public about their courts. “Cameras in the courtroom corrupt the process,” said Christo Lassiter, a University of Cincinnati law professor. “I believe the spotlight of the press gives you accountability, but I also believe that TV cameras in particular will not provide either the spotlight of accountability or remove the shroud of mystery behind court proceedings.” Grassley and Schumer introduced the bill last week and said the proposal has a greater chance of succeeding this time, in part because of the Supreme Court’s decision last year to allow audio broadcasts of its hearings on the Florida presidential election results. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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