November 16, 2021

Indiana Supreme Court launches pilot program allowing media recording in some courtrooms

Brandon Smith
IPB News

Brandon Smith / IPB News

The Indiana Supreme Court on Monday announced the upcoming launch of a pilot program allowing media recording in several trial courts.

Five trial courtrooms across the state will allow pictures and video recordings of court proceedings. In addition, the project will allow any live-streamed video feeds of a courtroom to be rebroadcast with a judge’s approval.

Currently, only the state supreme and appellate courts allow recordings to be taken.

Participating courts include circuit courts in Tippecanoe and Delaware counties and superior courts in Vanderburgh, Lake, and Allen counties.

Media coverage of courtrooms will have some restrictions, including cases involving minors, victims of sex-related offenses, or police informants.

All media coverage will require a judge's approval.

Dave Arland is the executive director of the Indiana Broadcaster’s Association, which helped develop the pilot. He said the association has pushed for court recordings for years - and the State Supreme Court has even piloted programs before - but those efforts never led to the state adopting a new policy. He said increased video streaming around courts during the pandemic might have played a role in the launch of this trial.

“People have become a lot more comfortable with electronic communication,” Arland said. “But the bigger picture, frankly, is just a change in leadership at the Supreme Court, and an interest in the current leadership to bring Indiana into a more modern courtroom environment.”

He said he’s hopeful the pilot will move the state towards allowing more broadcast coverage in courtrooms.

“It seems to us that allowing reporters to cover in a courtroom the way they would cover any other event, is something that will bring clarity and transparency in government to more people,” Arland said. “We think that’s the overriding goal here.”

Steve Key is the executive director and general counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association, which also helped develop the pilot. He said the ability of journalists to request access to courtroom video streams effectively opens every court - not just the five participating in the pilot project - up to coverage.

“This has opportunities for the media to be able to record and help share information on how the courts operate basically across the state under this pilot project,” he said.

The four-month trial begins on Dec. 1.

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