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Post date: January 27 2000

Statement By Attorney General Eliot Spitzer Regarding Televised Coverage Of The Diallo Case

After moving before Judge Teresi for television coverage of the Diallo trial, Court TV and the other media parties notified the Office of the Attorney General pursuant to Section 71 of the Executive Law of their challenge to the constitutionality of Section 52 of the Civil Rights Law, which bans cameras in the courtroom. The Office of the Attorney General declined to intervene at this early stage of the proceedings to defend the constitutionality of the state statute, consistent with the Office's general practice not to intervene at the trial court level, and instead to await presentation of the issues by interested parties to the appellate courts.

Following Judge Teresi's decision striking down Section 52 as unconstitutional and permitting cameras in the courtroom during the trial of the four police officers, both the prosecution and the defense have chosen not to appeal. Because Judge Teresi's decision is binding only in this case, the Office of the Attorney General will not intervene in this particular matter for purposes of appealing the decision in place of the parties, none of whom has argued that television coverage would impair the integrity of the trial.

The Attorney General will, however, consider intervening in future cases that are brought by interested parties to the appellate courts in order to defend the constitutionality of the state statute. This is consistent with Attorney General Spitzer's view that the legislative choice to ban cameras in the courtroom, although undesirable as a policy matter, is constitutional.