Herald-Whig View

Herald-Whig view: Allowing cameras in court a successful milestone

Posted: Mar. 3, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Mar. 3, 2019 12:27 am

FOR the first time in Adams County Circuit Court, cameras -- video and still -- recently were allowed into the courtroom to document for the public the proceedings inside.

We won't linger here on the matter that was before the court, other than to mention that we think local media outlets did an exemplary job portraying the trial accurately, fairly and in accordance with the instructions issued by Judge Robert Adrian.

Those instructions were direct, fair and clear, and we believe Adrian did a superb job communicating those rules.

And Court Administrator Sharon Main's communication in coordinating coverage with the circuit's media representative -- Herald-Whig Staff Writer Matt Hopf -- was a testament to the professionalism with which she has operated the day-to-day operations of the court for several years.

The willingness of the Adams County Circuit Court to allow cameras speaks to the fundamental openness within which our system of justice operates. Under the guidance of former 8th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Diane Lagoski and the current Chief Judge Frank McCartney, we believe the circuit's relationship with local media, while always strong, has been enhanced, allowing the public a more open view of proceedings.

Some may question why cameras and media coverage in general are necessary during trials. To those people, we would ask if they would feel better knowing trials were held behind closed doors, adjudicated in private and without accountability or reporting to the public? There are plenty of examples of just such affairs in Russia, Iran and North Korea of late to show exactly why no one should be comfortable with that arrangement.

Thankfully, our Founding Fathers knew better and built such accountabilities into the fabric of our nation.

While we write today to celebrate the success of the first use of cameras in the courtroom in Adams County, we also state that we look forward to even more opportunities to bring images and video of courtroom proceedings to the public -- not just in Adams County, but throughout the circuit, as well.

We have long been mindful of the need for privacy in the most delicate and personal of proceedings, and we give our word that we will continue to honor those policies.

At the same time, we give our word that we will do our best to honor the First Amendment and its guarantee of a free and open press, guided by ethical sensibility and our responsible obligation to our readers to keep open to them the proceedings of their government.