Court TV in familiar suit case

Net hires attorney Boies to press case against New York

Court TV is going to court to try to force New York state to open its courts to cable and broadcast TV.

The network has hired attorney David Boies to press the lawsuit, which argues that the state law banning cameras from the courtroom is unconstitutional.

Boies, who won the federal government’s antitrust case against Microsoft, more recently worked as the lead attorney for Al Gore in his post-election fight against George W. Bush to become president of the U.S.

‘Presumptive right’

Henry Schleiff, chairman and CEO of Court TV, said his network “has a presumptive right” to cover public trials with its cameras and microphones.

Schleiff cited the fact that 40 states open their courtroom doors to reporters, subject only to a decision by the trial judge that cameras would do some harm to a particular proceeding.

What frustrates Schleiff is that the state of New York instituted a nine-year experiment, ending in 1997, that invited cameras into its courtrooms. During this experiment, four studies commissioned by the state’s Legislature recommended that the test be made permanent.

But legislation to permit cameras has stalled in the Legislature. “We just haven’t made progress in Albany,” Schleiff said. “Our main opponent appears to be nothing more profound than lethargy.”

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