By: Jack Elliott Jr., Associated Press Writer
(AP) Mississippi trial and appellate courts will be opened to newspaper and television cameras under new rules adopted Thursday by the state Supreme Court.
The rules will take effect July 1 and expire Dec. 31, 2004, unless the Supreme Court extends them, said Justice Bill Waller Jr. The rules will not apply to justice or municipal courts.
“Once we prove the success of the new and additional media coverage, we will extend it to the justice and municipal courts,” said Chief Justice Edwin L. Pittman.
The rules prohibit videotaping or photographing jurors or potential jurors. Camera coverage would also be limited in divorce, child custody, and various other family matters.
“Mississippians will now be able to see what the rest of the country has had for years,” said Dennis Smith, news director of Jackson’s WLBT-TV.
Thirty-six states allow cameras in civil and criminal proceedings in trial and appellate courts, according to the Washington-based National Center for State Courts. One other state allows cameras for criminal cases only.