When (in what case) has the First Amendment been held to include the right to film jurors in a court room?

I also leave open the possibility that there has been no such holding or even an opposite holding.


I don't think there would be such a case.

The Supreme Court itself does not allow cameras in its courtroom. Also, when Florida wanted to bring cameras into Florida courtrooms, the Supreme Court said in the 1981 case Chandler v. Florida:

Absent a showing of prejudice of constitutional dimensions to these defendants, there is no reason for this Court either to endorse or to invalidate Florida's experiment.

It's also worth noting that "the jury may not be filmed" and "The Florida Supreme Court has the right to revise these rules as experience dictates, or indeed to bar all broadcast coverage or photography in courtrooms" were two of the specific rules that the Supreme Court noted Florida had implemented. Although those particular rules were not at issue in this case, the Court made no further mention of them, and thus perhaps tacitly approved of their constitutionality.

Given that there does not seem to be a general right to film in a courtroom, it seems unlikely that there would be a right to film jurors in particular. Furthermore, this page lists the courtroom camera rules for several states. In many of them, filming jurors is prohibited. Presumably, if there was a ruling that this was unconstitutional, they wouldn't have those rules.

  • "...tacitly approved of their constitutionality..." - no. The Court specifically said that they would neither endorse or invalidate the Florida statute. This is always a possibility when putting a case before SCOTUS - that they WILL REFUSE TO RULE on an issue. "Absent a showing of prejudice of constitutional dimensions..." SCOTUS will not inject itself into an issue, and will allow the states, as sovereign powers, to make their own laws. Practically, though, jurors or their families in a controversial case could potentially be at risk; thus, there is good cause for not identifying jurors. – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica May 25 '18 at 22:13
  • SCOTUS didn't refuse to rule on the statute; they explicitly said it was constitutional. "We hold that the Constitution does not prohibit a state from experimenting with the program authorized by revised Canon 3A(7)." What they won't do is overrule the Florida courts saying it doesn't violate the Florida constitution. And what they probably won't do is make a decision as to whether a particular rule made under that statute is constitutional, if no party actually argued that the particular rule was unconstitutional (as opposed to the statute itself.) – D M May 26 '18 at 0:38

I don't know of any such case, but if it existed, it would still be hobbled by the Supreme Court's repeated holdings that (a) the Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial is a higher priority than First Amendment rights to free speech/press; and (b) the Sixth Amendment may require a court to prohibit filming jurors in the courtroom.

In Sheppard v. Maxwell, 384 U.S. 333 (1966), the court reversed a murder conviction based on, among other things, the publicity that jurors were exposed to, including news photographs of them visiting the murder scene, in the jury box, and in the deliberation room. The court said that a trial court must limit the presence of the press "when it is apparent that the accused might otherwise be prejudiced or disadvantaged."

And in Estes v. Texas, 381 U.S. 532 (1965), the Court came out pretty strongly against allowing video cameras in the courtroom at all:

Moreover, while it is practically impossible to assess the effect of television on jury attentiveness, those of us who know juries realize the problem of jury ‘distraction.’ The State argues this is de minimis since the physical disturbances have been eliminated. But we know that distractions are not caused solely by the physical presence of the camera and its telltale red lights. It is the awareness of the fact of telecasting that is felt by the juror throughout the trial. We are all self-conscious and uneasy when being televised. Human nature being what it is, not only will a juror's eyes be fixed on the camera, but also his mind will be preoccupied with the telecasting rather than with the testimony.

The Ohio Supreme Court has also said that the court may prohibit photographing jurors in the courtroom, but it also found a First Amendment violation where a trial court banned the press from photographing jurors outside of court (State ex rel. Nat. Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. Court of Common Pleas of Lake County, 52 Ohio St. 3d 104 (1990)). That holding turned on the trial court's failure to conduct the appropriate balancing test and note its findings before entering that order, but the court's language suggests that it would have been pretty difficult for any findings to survive the First Amendment test.


When (in what case) has the First Amendment been held to include the right to film jurors in a court room?

I also leave open the possibility that there has been no such holding or even an opposite holding.

There is no constitutional right to have cameras of any kind in a court room. Almost no courtrooms allowed cameras until very recently (the last twenty years or so) and the majority rule by far is not to allow them. This rule is why there is a cottage industry of artists who draw what happens in a courtroom instead.

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