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30 Years of Cameras in the Courtroom

By: Liza Park Email
By: Liza Park Email

This month marks the 30th anniversary of cameras in Florida courtrooms.
In 1979, Florida became a pioneer in bringing courtroom reality into people's living rooms.
It was 1975 when Attorney Sandy D'Alemberte petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to allow video cameras into courts in the Sunshine State.
D'Alemberte says new and better light technology helped pave the way for video cameras in the courtrooms.
"You can operate in a courtroom on existing light and there is no reason based on distraction to exclude cameras," explains D'Alemberte.
It took four years, but the Supreme court granted the petition on April 12, 1979... just in time to record much of Ted Bundy's courtroom drama in Florida.
Retired judge Don Modesitt was the State Attorney in the Big Bend for much of those first few years of cameras in the courtroom.
"The public has more insight into what actually is happening in the courtroom than what they're told or what they see on television in played out situations which are not realistic," says Modesitt.
Since the early 1980's, cameras have become a fixture in high profile cases... perhaps most notably capturing every close-up in the O.J. Simpson case in the mid 90's.
And the world's cameras enjoyed the open access of Florida's courts when they descended upon Tallahassee following the 2000 Presidential election and subsequent recount.
The Florida Supreme Court has embraced cameras in the courtroom - now filming and web-casting oral arguments in their entirety.
However, cameras are still not allowed in Federal Courtrooms... and many legal experts say that's the next frontier.
This month of April, the Florida Supreme Court is featuring displays explaining the story of cameras in the courtroom.


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