Cellphones in Courtrooms - The Missourian: Opinion

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Cellphones in Courtrooms

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Posted: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 5:00 pm

We believe in openness in government, but there has to be common sense exercised when it comes to cellphones in courtrooms. There’s a limit as to what should be tolerated in courtrooms in the sense of fairness to all concerned.

Some judges are concerned about cellphones with camera capabilities being allowed in courtrooms. We share their concerns. The current policy of permitting a judge to decide whether media cameras should be allowed in his or her courtroom has worked about as well as could be expected. Some judges never allow cameras. Other judges do depending on the case being heard. With controls set by the judge, it is possible to satisfy concerns.

One of the main concerns of judges is that people with cellphones can photograph jurors or witnesses in criminal cases and distribute those photos over the Internet, which could lead to opening them up to threats or intimidation. In St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch reported that there have been several incidents in which people have been caught taking pictures with cellphones, which indicates how difficult it is to completely prevent it from happening.

Should cellphone cameras be banned in courtrooms? We can understand why a judge would restrict the cellphones to protect witnesses and jurors.

An argument could be made that regardless of the cameras in the phones, it isn’t necessary for anyone to have a phone while attending a trial? 

/opinion