NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A712
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the judiciary law, in relation to audio-visual coverage
of judicial proceedings; and to repeal section 218 of the judiciary law
and section 52 of the civil rights law relating thereto
Provides for audio-visual recordings in judicial proceedings; repealer.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 repeals Section 218 of the Judiciary law and adds a new
Section 218 that provides for audio-visual recordings in judicial
proceedings. Details requirements for equipment and personnel including
type, location, and movement, provisions for livestreaming, and sound
and light criteria, and when limitations on audio-visual coverage are
Section 2 repeals section 52 of the civil rights law.
Section 3 amends section 5 of 751.
Section 4 is the effective date.
The public has the right to observe judicial proceedings. This legis-
lation to permit audio-visual coverage of judicial proceedings will
increase court accessibility while permitting reasonable restrictions
considerate to the needs of witnesses.
S.5039 of 2019-2020 (Hoylman): Died in Judiciary
A.4216 of 2019-2020 (Weprin): Died in Judiciary
A.4934 of 2017-2018 (Weprin): Died in Judiciary
This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall have
STATE OF NEW YORK
2023-2024 Regular Sessions
January 11, 2023
Introduced by M. of A. WEPRIN -- read once and referred to the Committee
AN ACT to amend the judiciary law, in relation to audio-visual coverage
of judicial proceedings; and to repeal section 218 of the judiciary
law and section 52 of the civil rights law relating thereto
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. Section 218 of the judiciary law is REPEALED and a new
2 section 218 is added to read as follows:
3 § 218. Audio-visual coverage of judicial proceedings. 1. Authori-
4 zation. Subject to the authority of the judge or justice presiding over
5 the proceeding to exercise sound discretion to prohibit filming or
6 photographing of particular participants in judicial proceedings to
7 ensure safety and the fair administration of justice, audio-visual and
8 still photography coverage of public judicial proceedings in the appel-
9 late and trial courts of this state shall be allowed in accordance with
10 this section.
11 2. Equipment and personnel. The following shall be permitted in any
12 trial or appellate court proceeding:
13 (a) At least two compact video cameras, each operated by no more than
14 one camera person. Additional permitted cameras shall be within the sole
15 discretion and authority of the judge or justice presiding over the
17 (b) Not more than two still photographers, using not more than two
18 still cameras each.
19 (c) Not more than one audio system for radio broadcast purposes.
20 Audio pickup for all media purposes shall be provided by existing audio
21 systems present in the courtroom. If no technically suitable audio
22 system exists in the courtroom, microphones and related wiring essential
23 for media purposes shall be permissible provided they are unobtrusive
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.
A. 712 2
1 and shall be located in places designated in advance of any proceeding
2 by the judge or justice presiding over the proceeding.
3 (d) Any pooling arrangements among members of the media concerning
4 equipment and personnel shall be the sole responsibility of such members
5 without calling upon the judge or justice presiding over the proceeding
6 to mediate any dispute as to the appropriate media representative or
7 equipment authorized to cover a particular proceeding. In the absence of
8 advance media agreement concerning disputed equipment or personnel
9 issues, the judge or justice presiding over the proceeding may exclude
10 all contesting media personnel from a proceeding.
11 3. Livestreaming. (a) Within six months of the effective date of this
12 section, and subject to appropriation by the legislature, the chief
13 administrator of the courts shall provide for:
14 (i) the installation and maintenance of cameras in all Supreme, Coun-
15 ty, City, and Appellate courtrooms;
16 (ii) the transmission of live proceedings on a publicly available
17 website, free of charge, in audio-visual form; and
18 (iii) the preservation of all recordings in archival form on a public-
19 ly available website for continued access, free of charge.
20 (b) Within eighteen months of the effective date of this section, and
21 subject to appropriation by the legislature, the chief administrator of
22 the courts shall provide for:
23 (i) the installation and maintenance of cameras in all Family, Town,
24 and Village courtrooms;
25 (ii) transmission of live proceedings on a publicly available website,
26 free of charge, in audio-visual form; and
27 (iii) preservation of all recordings in archival form on a publicly
28 available website for continued access, free of charge.
29 4. Sound and light criteria. Video and audio equipment, including
30 still camera equipment, whether film or digital, shall not be permitted
31 if it produces disorienting sound or light. No artificial lighting
32 device of any kind shall be used in connection with the video equipment
33 or still camera.
34 5. Location of equipment personnel. Video camera equipment and still
35 camera photographers shall be positioned in such location in the court-
36 room as shall be designated by the chief administrative judge of the
37 court or the chief administrative judge's designee. The area designated
38 shall provide reasonable access to coverage of the proceedings. Still
39 camera photographers shall assume a fixed position within the designated
40 area and shall not be permitted to move about to obtain photographs of
41 court proceedings. Media representatives shall not move about the court
42 facility while proceedings are in session, and microphones or taping
43 equipment shall not be moved during the pendency of the proceeding.
44 6. Equipment movement during proceedings. News media photographic or
45 audio equipment shall not be placed in or removed from the court facili-
46 ty except before commencement or after adjournment of proceedings each
47 day, or during a recess. Neither video cassettes or film magazines nor
48 still camera film, digital media cards or lenses shall be changed within
49 a courtroom except during a recess in the proceeding.
50 7. Courtroom light sources. With the concurrence of the chief adminis-
51 trative judge of the court, modifications and additions may be made in
52 light sources existing in the courtroom, provided such modifications or
53 additions are installed and maintained without public expense.
54 8. Conferences of counsel. To protect the attorney-client privilege
55 and the effective right to counsel, there shall be no audio pickup or
56 broadcast of conferences that occur in a courtroom between attorneys and
A. 712 3
1 their clients, between co-counsel of a client, or between counsel and
2 the presiding judge held at the bench.
3 9. Impermissible use of media material. Film, digital files, vide-
4 otape, still photographs, or audio reproductions captured or recorded
5 during or by virtue of coverage of a judicial proceeding shall not be
6 admissible as evidence in the proceeding out of which it arose, in any
7 proceeding subsequent or collateral thereto, or upon retrial or appeal
8 of such proceedings.
9 10. Written order. An order restricting audio-visual coverage with
10 respect to a particular participant shall be in writing and be included
11 in the record of such proceeding. The order must state good cause why
12 such coverage will have a substantial effect upon the individual which
13 would be qualitatively different from the effect on members of the
14 public in general and that such effect will be qualitatively different
15 from coverage by other types of media. Before prohibiting audio-visual
16 coverage, the presiding judge must first consider the imposition of
17 special limitations, such as a delayed or modified still or audio-visual
18 coverage of the proceedings.
19 11. Closing the courtroom. No audio-visual coverage or livestreaming
20 will be permitted during any period in which the courtroom is lawfully
21 closed to the general public in accordance with the United States and
22 New York Constitutions, New York law and court rules.
23 12. Appellate review. Interlocutory review of an order restricting
24 audio-visual coverage shall be expedited in accordance with the rules of
25 the applicable appellate court.
26 13. Regulations. The provisions of this act shall supersede any
27 provision to the contrary in Part 131 of the Rules of the Chief Adminis-
28 trative Judge, 22 NYCRR Part 131, Part 29 of the Rules of the Chief
29 Judge, 22 NYCRR Part 29, and any other court rule regarding audio-visual
30 coverage of judicial proceedings.
31 § 2. Section 52 of the civil rights law is REPEALED.
32 § 3. Subdivision 5 of section 751 of the judiciary law, as added by
33 chapter 187 of the laws of 1992, is amended to read as follows:
34 5. Where any member of the [news] media as [defined in subdivision two
35 of] referenced in section two hundred eighteen of this chapter, willful-
36 ly disobeys a lawful mandate of a court issued pursuant to such section,
37 the punishment for each day that such contempt persists may be by a fine
38 fixed in the discretion of the court, but not to exceed five thousand
39 dollars per day or imprisonment, not exceeding thirty days, in the jail
40 of the county where the court is sitting or both, in the discretion of
41 the court. In fixing the amount of the fine, the court shall consider
42 all the facts and circumstances directly related to the contempt,
43 including, but not limited to: (i) the extent of the willful defiance of
44 or resistance to the court's mandate, (ii) the amount of gain obtained
45 by the willful disobedience of the mandate, and (iii) the effect upon
46 the public and the parties to the proceeding of the willful disobedi-
48 § 4. This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall
49 have become a law.