Donald Trump’s possible Georgia indictment could be the only televised case he faces

Georgia has a traditionally lax policy on allowing cameras inside court proceedings
Georgia has a traditionally lax policy on allowing cameras inside court proceedings.
Published: Aug. 11, 2023 at 8:05 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2023 at 10:58 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Among the myriad reasons a potential indictment in Fulton County could be different that former president Donald Trump’s other existing court cases – the one in Georgia could be televised.

Georgia courtrooms have a notably lax approach to allowing cameras in court proceedings, and there’s no reason to believe the former president’s potential case would be any different.

Still photography was allowed at his arraignment on alleged financial crimes in New York. None were allowed inside his arraignment in Miami on charges related to his possession of classified documents. Federal courtrooms bar all cameras from proceedings, so the public will never see video or images from any of Trump’s case on federal charges tied to his actions after the 2020 election.

But in Georgia, a judge needs a good reason to bar media from courtrooms – like a juvenile witness or victim – and no such case exists in the case of Donald Trump.

“Georgia courts traditionally have allowed the media and the public in so that everyone can scrutinize how our process actually works,” said local attorney Josh Schiffer. “Unlike a lot of states with very strict rules, courts in Georgia are going to basically leave it up to the judges.”

Because no charging announcements have been made, it’s unclear how the Fulton County Courthouse or District Attorney Fani Willis would handle cameras at the possible proceedings. But Schiffer expects full media access.

“When you have independent monitors – that being the public, the press, academics – watching our process actually function, not necessarily the way it was written about in the books but how it really works, only by having that transparency can good complaints rise to the top and be dealt with,” he said. “And it’s all in an effort to make the process work better to produce justice.”

Georgia has allowed cameras in courtrooms since the 1980s. Former DeKalb County prosecutor J. Tom Morgan tried the first ever case to be televised on camera, and says it’s an important element of transparency.

“It’s a great way to educate the public about what’s going on in the third branch of government,” he said. “When a witness is one the witness stand, sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, knowing that not only a jury, a judge, and lawyers are watching but the entire public is watching, my experience has been they are more prone to do the best they can to give accurate statements in court.”

Ultimately, the decision on allowing cameras inside the courtroom for any case against Trump would be up to the judge handling the case. Morgan doesn’t see a reason to bar media.

“The public needs to see this trial,” he said. “Not only should a jury decide the guilt or innocence of these defendants, but the court of public opinion.”