Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Journalism and Mass Communications


The disenchantment between the bar and the press on camera coverage of court proceedings began in 1935 after Bruno Hauptmann was tried, convicted, and executed for the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh's son. Thousands of people gathered in the streets to wait for news of the trial while reporters and cameramen with film and still picture cameras covered the proceedings inside the courtroom. The American Bar Association adopted canon 35 to keep radio and photographic equipment out of the courtroom in 1937. Canon 35 was amended in 1952 to ban television cameras from the courtroom. A majority of states across the nation agreed to accept canon 35 and prohibited all cameras from the courtroom. Other altercations between the bar and press occurred both in and out of the courtroom in the next three decades. The judge held total control over the courtroom and had the authority to allow or prevent camera coverage. Decisions from state and federal courts followed that essentially closed courtroom doors to cameras in almost every state. In Estes v. Texas, the United States Supreme Court ruled cameras disrupted the proceedings making a fair trial impossible for the defendant Billy Sol Estes. Five of the nine United States Supreme Court justices agreed television cameras prevented a defendant from having a fair trial. Courtroom doors began to reopen in the mid-1970s. The United States Supreme Court's 1981 decision in Chandler v. Florida made it possible for states to study the issue and make their own choices on cameras in court. In 1986 there are forty-three states that permit some sort of camera coverage in the courtroom. Only seven states, including South Dakota, do not permit any television coverage. This thesis is a study of the current attitudes of South Dakota justices, judges, state's attorneys, and members of the State Bar of South Dakota on the issue of allowing cameras in the courtroom. The thesis will review South Dakota regulations and proposals on camera coverage of courts along with the national history of cameras in the courtroom. Since 1980 there have been two committees on cameras in the courtroom formed by the South Dakota Supreme Court to investigate the use of cameras in the courtroom and to recommend a course of action. The thesis will review those recommendations and guidelines. Knowledge of the attitudes of attorneys belonging to the State Bar of South Dakota is essential since the South Dakota Supreme Court committee on cameras in the courtroom expressed· the opinion in 1983 that the support of the South Dakota State Bar is imperative. Any proposed guidelines would need the support of bar attorneys before it could be passed by both houses of the state legislature.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Video tapes in court proceedings -- South Dakota
Free press and fair trial -- South Dakota
Conduct of court proceedings -- South Dakota



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - United State