The Judicial Conference of the United States has a “Cameras in Court Policy” that authorizes the use of cameras in courtrooms. Cameras are typically not allowed in federal trial courts. Cameras may have an intimidating effect on witnesses and jurors in civil proceedings in federal trial and appellate courts.
Legislative efforts to allow cameras in federal trial and appellate courts on an experimental basis have been introduced repeatedly in Congress, but have never passed.
From June 18, 2011 through July 18, 2015, the Judicial Conference conducted a pilot program to evaluate the effect of cameras in district court courtrooms, video recordings of proceedings and publications of such video recordings.
The pilot program include the following courts: Middle District of Alabama; Northern District of California; Southern District of Florida; District of Guam; Northern District of Illinois; Southern District of Iowa; District of Kansas; District of Massachusetts; Eastern District of Missouri; District of Nebraska; Northern District of Ohio; Southern District of Ohio; Western District of Tennessee; and Western District of Washington.
After the end of that 3 year pilot program, in March of 2016, the Judicial Conference received a report recommending to not make any changes to the Conference policy at that time.
However, the three districts (California Northern, Washington Western, and Guam) are allowed to continue the program under the same terms and conditions to provide longer term data and information to Committee on Court Administration and Casement Management (CACM).
In trial courts, a judge may authorize broadcasting, televising, recording, or taking photographs in the courtroom or adjacent areas.
When broadcasting, televising, recording, or photographing in the courtroom or adjacent areas, a judge should ensure that it is done in a manner that will be consistent with the rights of the parties, not unduly distract participants in the proceeding, and not otherwise interfere with the administration of justice.