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Media Has Limited Access To Trump Criminal Trial Due To Restrictive NY Law

It’s a moment in history — the first U.S. president facing criminal chargesin an American courtroom. Yet only a handful of observers are able to see or even hear what is going on. Instead, most of the nation is getting news of former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial secondhand. Starting with preliminary motions and jury selection Monday, reporters in a Manhattan courtroom must convey what is being said to the outside world after the fact, the Associated Press reports. That’s all because New York state law regarding media coverage of court proceedings is one of the most restrictive in the country. Last week’s death of O.J. Simpson, whose murder trial beamed live from a California courtroom captivated a nation three decades ago, was a telling reminder of how New York is behind the times — or, at least, a holdout.

Regulations limiting media coverage in courtrooms date back nearly a century, when the spectacle of bright flashbulbs and camera operators standing on witness tables during the 1935 trial of the man accused of kidnapping and killing Charles Lindbergh’s baby son horrified the legal community, according to a 2022 report by the New York-based Fund for Modern Courts. Rules to enforce decorum spread nationally, amended to account for the invention of television, as defense lawyers worried that video coverage would harm their cases, the report said. Yet an interest in open government chipped away at these laws and — slowly, carefully — video cameras began to be permitted in courts across the country, often at the discretion of judges presiding in individual cases. At the trial’s outset, some reporters suggested that it appeared there were times that Trump drifted off to sleep while watching the proceedings. The former president’s campaign disputed that. With no video camera in place and trained on him, there’s no way of knowing for sure.


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