Two members of the Atlanta City Council introduced a resolution Monday calling for video cameras in Fulton County courtrooms that would livestream court proceedings to the public.
“We need a better understanding of our judicial system,” Councilmember Howard Shook of Buckhead said in a news release. “The public should be able to see and hear what goes on in our courtrooms, just as it can now observe live or recorded Council activities.”
Shook authored the resolution, along with J.P. Matzigkeit, also of Buckhead. The resolution asks for the installation of cameras in Fulton County Superior Court and Magistrate Court. The resolution provides that cameras would allow the option of “live-streaming of select court proceedings for the benefit of the public.”
If approved, the document will be a request rather than a requirement, since the council is the governing body for the city of Atlanta but not Fulton County.
The sponsors said their effort was prompted by a surge in crime that in turn has raised questions and concerns about the judicial process—including a murder committed after a controversial early release and the release on a signature bond of an individual charged with 17 counts, including felonies with a handgun.
“Our judges play an important role in supporting our law enforcement officers by keeping dangerous criminals off the streets,” Matzigkeit said in the news release. “Having cameras in courtrooms is an important initiative to help make this happen.”
Both the state’s appellate courts—the Georgia Supreme Court and the Georgia Court of Appeals—have installed cameras and routinely livestream their oral arguments. Those videos are available for replay on the appellate court’s websites.
Court of Appeals Chief Judge Stephen Dillard has spoken out in favor of video cameras in the courtroom, as has Supreme Court Presiding Justice David Nahmias. They said they did not find the video recordings to be intrusive, and said judges quickly adjusted to them.