skip to main content

S. 829 (109th): Sunshine in the Courtroom Act of 2005


The text of the bill below is as of Mar 30, 2006 (Reported by Senate Committee).


S 829 RS

Calendar No. 383

109th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 829

To allow media coverage of court proceedings.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

April 18, 2005

Mr. GRASSLEY (for himself, Mr. SCHUMER, Mr. CORNYN, Mr. LEAHY, Mr. CRAIG, Mr. FEINGOLD, Mr. ALLEN, Mr. DURBIN, Mr. GRAHAM, Mr. DEWINE, Mr. ALLARD, and Mr. SPECTER) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

March 30, 2006

Reported by Mr. SPECTER, without amendment


A BILL

To allow media coverage of court proceedings.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Sunshine in the Courtroom Act of 2005'.

SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:

      (1) PRESIDING JUDGE- The term `presiding judge' means the judge presiding over the court proceeding concerned. In proceedings in which more than 1 judge participates, the presiding judge shall be the senior active judge so participating or, in the case of a circuit court of appeals, the senior active circuit judge so participating, except that--

        (A) in en banc sittings of any United States circuit court of appeals, the presiding judge shall be the chief judge of the circuit whenever the chief judge participates; and

        (B) in en banc sittings of the Supreme Court of the United States, the presiding judge shall be the Chief Justice whenever the Chief Justice participates.

      (2) APPELLATE COURT OF THE UNITED STATES- The term `appellate court of the United States' means any United States circuit court of appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States.

SEC. 3. AUTHORITY OF PRESIDING JUDGE TO ALLOW MEDIA COVERAGE OF COURT PROCEEDINGS.

    (a) Authority of Appellate Courts- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the presiding judge of an appellate court of the United States may, in the discretion of that judge, permit the photographing, electronic recording, broadcasting, or televising to the public of court proceedings over which that judge presides.

    (b) Authority of District Courts-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any presiding judge of a district court of the United States may, in the discretion of that judge, permit the photographing, electronic recording, broadcasting, or televising to the public of court proceedings over which that judge presides.

      (2) OBSCURING OF WITNESSES-

        (A) IN GENERAL- Upon the request of any witness in a trial proceeding other than a party, the court shall order the face and voice of the witness to be disguised or otherwise obscured in such manner as to render the witness unrecognizable to the broadcast audience of the trial proceeding.

        (B) NOTIFICATION TO WITNESSES- The presiding judge in a trial proceeding shall inform each witness who is not a party that the witness has the right to request that the image and voice of that witness be obscured during the witness' testimony.

    (c) Advisory Guidelines- The Judicial Conference of the United States may promulgate advisory guidelines to which a presiding judge, in the discretion of that judge, may refer in making decisions with respect to the management and administration of photographing, recording, broadcasting, or televising described under subsections (a) and (b).

SEC. 4. SUNSET.

    The authority under section 3(b) shall terminate 3 years after the date of the enactment of this Act.

Calendar No. 383

109th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 829

A BILL

To allow media coverage of court proceedings.


March 30, 2006

Reported without amendment