Politicians, advocates and legal eagles on Sunday called for the Big Apple to permit live video inside the courtroom when former President Donald Trump faces a judge in the coming days.
Assembling at Foley Square in the shadow of Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse, Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, Assembly Member David Weprin and others charged that it is in the public’s best interest to be able to watch the first former president during the trial process.
“There are not enough overflow courtrooms in America to accommodate the estimated 18.4 million people who watched the Derek Chauvin trial on television, our last landmark criminal justice case,” said Dan Novack, chair of the New York Bar Association Committee on Media Law. “Donald Trump is about to be prosecuted but unless you’re one of the privileged few who might be allowed inside the courtroom, you won’t be able to watch.”
The lawmakers, surrounded by supporting advocates, contended that Trump’s indictment is historic and should be considered as such, allowing Americans to view the proceedings. Holding up a map of the United States, speakers said that New York is one of just two states not to allow broadcast in the courtroom, along with Louisiana.
With that in mind, those in attendance Sunday said they’re pushing to amend the judiciary law that prevents audio-visual coverage of trial proceedings through new legislation, S160, which would repeal these “outdated” restrictions, and with appropriate discretion afforded to judges in sensitive cases.
The pols imploring the bill’s passage also hope its implementation can be streamlined in time for Trump’s trial.
Senator Holyman stressed that if S160 is passed, the media would be able to bring microphones and cameras in New York courtrooms — a right he believes will help inform the public not only on trials like Trump’s, but on the country’s legal system as a whole.
At the conclusion of Sunday’s press conference, Hoylman-Sigal — the bill’s primary sponsor — pointed to the New York County Supreme Court behind him and read aloud an inscription:
“‘The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government,'” the Manhattan pol read. “Every other branch of government allows audio visual recordings, except our courthouses. We’ve seen in New York, the dilemma that the public is confronted with, almost on a daily basis, trying to understand our criminal justice laws, including our bail laws. We believe that if there were audio visual recordings permitted, the public would better understand it, and policymakers would react accordingly.”
A Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Trump on Thursday after a months-long investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office into alleged hush money payments by Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to ex-adult film star Stormy Daniels — who Trump allegedly had an affair with prior to being elected president in 2016.
Trump’s attorney said Friday that he won’t be placed in handcuffs when surrendering to police next week. Bragg’s office has said it’s working with Trump’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, to coordinate his arrest — which will likely take place next Tuesday.
Additional reporting by Ethan Stark-Miller and Lloyd Mitchell