The United States Judicial Conference has examined the use of cameras in federal courts on several occasions. The Conference most recently experimented with cameras in 2010, when it authorized a pilot in 14 district courts, including the District of Kansas. The pilot program took place from July 18, 2011 to July 18, 2015. On March 15, 2016, the Judicial Conference received the report of its Committee on Court Administration and Case Management and agreed not to make any changes to the Conference’s cameras policy at this time. Thus, the cameras pilot is over in the District of Kansas.
The Ninth Circuit Judicial Council, in cooperation with the Judicial Conference, has authorized the three districts in the Ninth Circuit (the Northern District of California, the District of Guam, and the Western District of Washington) that participated in the 2011-2015 cameras pilot to continue the pilot program under the same terms and conditions to provide longer term data and information to the Committee on Court Administration and Case Management.
For historical purposes and until the other pilot is finished, the District is leaving in place the earlier information on this webpage. It is set forth below.
The District of Kansas is among fourteen United States District Courts selected to participate in a three year Digital Video Recording Pilot project to study the effect of cameras in the courtroom and on the public, parties, counsel, jurors, judges, and the institution of federal courts. During the pilot, civil bench and jury trials, as well as civil motions hearings will be recorded by local court personnel and published to a website where they will be available for viewing or download by parties, counsel, and the general public. You can view the recorded proceedings at www.uscourts.gov.
Civil trials and hearings will be recorded unless a party objects to recording within the time specified in the notice of hearing.
A party may consent to recording of a particular hearing in their case, but not consent to recording of other proceedings in that same case. Even with full party consent, the presiding judge has the discretion to not record proceedings or testimony in a trial or hearing, in the interests of privacy or to protect sensitive matter. Similarly, the presiding judge has the discretion to not publish all or part of a trial or hearing that has been recorded. And, while witnesses cannot veto a recording, if a witness has expressed a desire to not be recorded, that should be brought to the attention of the presiding judge who can decide after conferring with the parties whether to record that witness or provide other appropriate relief. Parties and counsel will be able to access the recordings through a link to the uscourts.gov website, typically within hours of the recorded testimony. While the recordings will not serve as the official record, having quick access to video recordings of testimony will undoubtedly benefit litigants and counsel.
We encourage those of you who have civil trials or hearings during the three year term of the pilot to participate by consenting to the recording of proceedings in which you represent parties. While there may be particular witness testimony that is of concern, these issues can be raised with the Court and addressed, whether by not recording any of the proceeding, or by selectively recording parts of the proceeding.
Criminal proceedings will not be recorded under any circumstance. Magistrate Judges and Bankruptcy Judges are not participating in the pilot. In Kansas, the District Judges who are participating are Judges Vratil, Marten, Robinson and Melgren. Among those participating are judges who generally favor the concept of cameras in the courtroom, as well as judges who generally disfavor the concept of cameras in the courtroom.