A Utah family lawyer has applied to have divorce cases in his state filmed and broadcast.
In his proposal, Eric Johnson said he would use his online video channel to inform the public about the way civil courts work.
Officials in the western state have expressed concern about Johnson’s motives, but he denies the move is for self-promotional purposes.
The family lawyer said:
“Our courts are public, and the public should know more about the courts … I’m not trying to be a National Enquirer-kind of guy, I just want the public to see how the courts work.”
The move comes at the same time as a rule change is being debated in Utah regarding media access to the courts.
Under the proposed plans, cameras will be allowed into some Utah courtrooms for the first time. Proponents say it will improve public trust in the court system by increasing transparency.
However, court officials want to amend the new rule so that media outlets have to give a reason why cameras should be allowed to a particular proceeding, rather than a judge having to give a reason to ban their use.
Johnson was not happy about the potential for restricted access, saying cameras in the courts be a force for good.
“Transparency should make for courts functioning better and people being better served by the system.”
Utah court officials say their proposal will have no major impact on ‘legitimate’ news outlets, but some media rights activists are not convinced.
David Reymann, a media lawyer, argues that the change goes against what the original rule change was designed for: increased transparency in the courts.
“There should be no distinction between camera coverage of open proceedings and a reporter, who’s able to sit there and live-tweet the whole thing out or report it second-hand. If anything, a video recording will be more accurate.”
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