Yes, we are aware that the 21st Century is already in progress – which makes it all the more amazing that 20th Century technology such as video and audio recording are still so frequently absent from judicial proceedings. That is about to change in the South Dakota Supreme Court.
The introduction of modern technology can still be squashed by one of three parties – the prosecution, the defense or the judge. But if all three agree, microphones and cameras – both still and motion-capturing versions – will be allowed to record courtroom events.
In the event that there is not unanimous agreement on the presence of electronic devices, the presiding judge will have the option of at least allowing audio recording.
RTDNA hailed the move, which takes effect 7/1/11. “We are very encouraged by this decision,” said RTDNA Chairman Mark Kraham. “It’s certainly a step in the right direction in giving the citizens of South Dakota and the United States a chance to take a closer look at the U.S. legal system.”
Chief Justice David Gilbertson added, “The Court has chosen a middle path on this issue to insure that persons who come into our courts continue to receive a fair trial. We will closely follow how these new proceedings work. This will also allow the judges, attorneys and other court personnel to become familiar and comfortable with this new environment. In the future, if this current system works without difficulties and the Court deems it appropriate, the Supreme Court has the option of looking at expansion of the system. On the other hand, if significant problems arise the Court can also correct those.”