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Minn. House Committee Unanimously Votes To Restrict Cameras In Courtrooms

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- State lawmakers Wednesday took a dramatic step to curb the use of cameras in Minnesota courtrooms.

The House Public Safety Committee unanimously approved a measure to require a long list of people involved in a trial to say "yes" before cameras can be allowed in a courtroom.

Right now, there's a court pilot project that allows cameras only during criminal sentencing as long as long as the victims, the families and the judge say yes.

Even so, critics claim victims of sexual violence may be reluctant to come forward. Media advocates say that's not what's actually happening.

"Members of the Minnesota public -- your constituents, residents of this state -- have for the first time in the state's history been able to see what actually occurs in courtrooms, which -- if you know about that -- is normally pretty impressive," Mark Anfinson of the Minnesota Newspaper Association said.

On the other hand, advocates say the spotlight can deter victims from coming forward.

"We just cannot risk creating any further barriers for victims seeking justice," Caroline Palmer of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault said. "Not only are they deterred from reporting, but we as a state are losing the opportunity to hold offenders accountable who created the harm."

Minnesota is among only a handful of states that bar cameras in courts. Wisconsin, Iowa, and North and South Dakota allow cameras.

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