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Other reforms needed before courts get cameras

On Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Ed Pittman’s list ofjudicial reforms is consideration of allowing cameras in thecourtroom.

While we see some merit to the argument, we do not believe thecamera issue should be high on the list of reforms. There’s simplyother judicial matters that need more attention.

Chief among them is combating this state’s growing reputationfor “jackpot justice.” Claiborne County has become infamous for itsverdicts in plaintiff-driven lawsuits over various issues.

Further tort reform measures, including laws to preventattorneys from jury-shopping, are clearly needed.

Back to Pittman’s latest issue. For the most part, cameras areunobtrusive and would further the concept of open courtrooms.

But opponents of the measure fear attorneys, judges and otherswould pander to the cameras in a possible effort towardself-promotion. The O.J. Simpson trial proved that possibilitycould be a reality.

We certainly support openness in all aspects of government.However, in the case of court, we wonder if there is enoughinterest to justify cameras there.

With some exceptions for “sexy” trials, most days see only ahandful of spectators in the Lincoln County Circuit Court gallery.The seats are available, but the interest in seeing courtfirst-hand apparently is just not there.

And, as just about any official will tell you, local courtaction bears very little semblance to what people see on TV showslike “L.A. Law,” “Law and Order,” or “The Practice.”

Many days, court is a matter of “hurry up and wait” as officialsplod through the day’s docket of arraignments, guilty pleas andmotions hearings.

With little interest and more important matters to address,court leaders can “hurry up and wait” on the courtroom camerasissue.