Cameras would be allowed in most courtroom settings under a measure advancing Tuesday in the Democratic-led New York state Senate.
The bill, yet to be in the state Assembly, comes as former President Donald Trump's trial later this year in New York City over hush money allegations will surely draw national interest.
Cameras and other audio visual equipment are generally disallowed in New York state courtrooms without special permission. The measure, back by state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal, would provide exceptions for special witnesses and other procedures.
"The true administration of justice requires public faith in an impartial, unimpeachable, and competent judiciary," he said. "Sadly, New York’s court system and accountability proceedings are shrouded in secrecy, fostering perceptions of corruption, incompetence, and unaccountability."
The bill is part of a broader package of provisions lawmakers in the Senate are approving with the stated goal of expanding judicial transparency and accountability. The measures include new reporting and disclosure requirements for the sources of funding campaigns that support state judicial nominees as well as having the financial disclosure statements of judges posted online.
Lawmakers also want annual training on judicial performance, training and security as well as the monitoring of bail data for bias when bail is set.
The measures also come months after Democrats in the state Senate rejected Gov. Kathy Hochul's first nominee to lead the state Court of Appeals, Hector LaSalle, amid opposition from progressive organizations and labor unions.
The Senate later confirmed Rowan Wilson as the state's chief judge, seen as a more progressive jurist.
Democratic lawmakers have said they are taking a more active interest in judicial nominations at the state level given the conservative majority in the U.S. Supreme Court.
But Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Tuesday said it was unlikely lawmakers will take up first passage of a constitutional amendment to do away with the judicial nominating commission, which has been used to recommend a slate of judicial candidates for the governor.
“The Judiciary has a tremendous impact on the lives of all New Yorkers, and the power of its rulings lies in the public's confidence in its moral clarity and adherence to the highest ethical standards,” Stewart-Cousins said. “With this legislative package, we are taking significant steps to strengthen judicial accountability, enhance the ethical standards of our judges, and bolster public confidence in our judicial system. I would like to thank the bill's sponsors, as well as Senator Hoylman-Sigal, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, for all their work in moving this package forward. I am very proud of this legislation and the effort our conference is making to strengthen people's trust in the institution."