After prosecutor's live courtroom feed is disclosed, judges consider expanding viewing areas

After disclosure of a live courtroom video feed to the prosecutor’s office in Warren County, Ohio, judges are considering expanding the program to include more remote-viewing locations.

Judges are considering adding viewing areas in the attorney waiting area and the law library, the Dayton Daily News reports. Administrative Judge Donald Oda disclosed the plans in a letter to the Warren County Bar Association.

The bar association voted on Wednesday to appoint a committee to review the courtroom audio and video feed. County bar president David Ernst told the Dayton Daily News that the committee “will look at the genesis of the system … , how it is being used and how it was implemented.”

Controversy erupted earlier this month after disclosure of the feed to prosecutor David Fornshell’s office. The feed is no different than the one that goes to media rooms, Fornshell said at the time.

Defense lawyer John Kaspar said he first heard about the video feed after the family of his murder client complained they could hear everything he was saying at the defense table. “This raises all sorts of issues—attorney/client privilege and separation of witnesses who could be listening to the trial in the prosecutor’s office,” Kaspar told the Dayton Daily News.

Signs at defense lawyers’ tables warn them to mute the microphone during private conversations. Though Fornshell can move the cameras, “I cannot zoom in on anything,” he told the Dayton Daily News earlier this month. He first got approval for a video and audio feed in a 2011 trial and now gets camera feeds from all three county courtrooms, though there is a problem with audio in one of the courtrooms.

Oda’s letter said Ohio judges must allow broadcasting, recording and photographing of court proceedings under state law. “The public’s right to an open courtroom must be balanced with the rights of the litigants to a fair trial,” he wrote. “We believe technology in the courtroom strikes the proper balance between these sometimes competing interests, and we try to be vigilant against misuse.”

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.