UNLIKE the first trial of the police officers who beat...

Salmagundi

February 25, 1993

UNLIKE the first trial of the police officers who beat Rodney King, the present one will not be televised. That is because federal courtrooms are off limits to cameras. That is, almost all of them are.

Two federal circuit courts of appeals and six federal district courts are participating in an experiment with cameras that could lead to bringing federal trials and appeals into the 20th century (just in time for the 21st).

So far only civil cases are being televised. Few if any of the mainstream networks and local stations are relaying this "news" to viewers, but both C-Span and Court TV have shown numerous federal cases. For instance, C-Span offered its viewers the interesting arguments made in the Guam abortion law case.

This experiment in televising federal courts will conclude next year. Then the results will be analyzed, and the federal judiciary will decide what next.

We would hope that what's next is opening up all federal courtrooms to coverage of both civil and criminal cases.

There is a school of thought to the effect that had the Rodney King trial been widely televised in Los Angeles, instead of just the infamous beating tape, there might have been less angry reaction to the verdict.

It's possible, we suppose.

We have heard of people in areas where full trial coverage was available who started out with open minds about the four officers' guilt and concluded after seeing all the testimony and evidence that they were innocent.

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