Courtroom Video Camera Pilot Project Progresses

Fourteen districts have modified their local rules and have established guidelines as part of a three-year pilot program to test recordings in federal civil cases; several districts have model request forms to determine whether a particular proceeding may be recorded upon the consent of the parties and court

The three-year pilot program to evaluate the impact of cameras in federal civil proceedings has made significant progress this past year.

On July 18, 2011, the federal courts launched a three-year pilot project in fourteen districts which volunteered to participate. On September 14, 2010, the U.S. Judicial Conference "approved a pilot project to evaluate the effect of cameras in federal district courtrooms and the public release of digital video recordings of some civil proceedings."

Many of the federal proceedings have been posted for viewing on the US Courts website. As of October 21, 2011, more than 70 videos have been posted on the site. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois began video recordings this week, on December 28, 2011. See WGN-TV Report: Cameras to record federal civil cases in Chicago (Dec. 28, 2011).

The pilot program is restricted to civil proceedings in which the parties have consented to the recording. Recorded criminal proceedings are barred under Fed. R. Crim. P. 53. Each of the participating district must comply with Guidelines issued on July 26, 2011 by the Committee on Court Administration and Case Management (CACM).

The districts have adopted General Orders and modified their local rules to permit participation in the pilot program. Several districts have also promulgated model request forms to participate in the program. For example, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has the following model forms: (1) Request for Video Recording Form; (2) Notification of Request for Video Recording; (3) Party Response to Request for Video Recording; (4) Notice Regarding Proposed Video Recording; and (6) Request to Exempt Witness from Video Recording. Copies of many of the model forms and General Orders are collected at the Federal Courts Pilot Program Table.

The fourteen districts participating in the pilot program include: (1) Middle District of Alabama; (2) Northern District of California; (3) Southern District of Florida; (4) District of Guam; (5) Northern District of Illinois; (6) Southern District of Iowa; (7) District of Kansas; (8) District of Massachusetts; (9) Eastern District of Missouri; (10) District of Nebraska; (11) Northern District of Ohio; (12) Southern District of Ohio; (13) Western District of Tennessee; and (14) Western District of Washington.

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For more information, visit the Cameras And Electronic Devices In The Federal Courtroom Resource Page, which contains a library of documents including judicial conference policies, judicial guidelines, legislation and hearings, cases and other articles of interest. If you are aware of other information to add to the library, please contact us. Constructive comments are always welcome.

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