Since 1946, electronic media coverage of federal district courts has been expressly prohibited. But now, fourteen federal trial courts and 100 judges will participate in a three-year digital video pilot, a first for the Federal Judiciary.

According to a Federal Court release, the presiding judge will still hold much sway over these cameras in court. He can stop a recording if it impinges on the rights of witnesses or if it's necessary to preserve the dignity of the court, and will have final say over the video being made accessible to the public. Of course, coverage of the jury will not be permitted, and all parties must give their consent before the recording of each proceeding can take place.

The pilot recordings will not be simulcast, but if they pass standards, they'll be available shortly after on www.uscourts.gov and local court websites. The experiment will begin July 18th with a mix of US District judges—including those who are both for and against cameras in courtrooms. [Network World via Slashdot]