Americans' first televised look at federal judges at work likely will occur next year in appeals courts in New York or San Francisco or a trial court in one of six states, court officials said last week.
"The courts have been selected. Now, it's a matter of the news media requesting coverage in particular cases," said David Sellers, a spokesman for the policy-making U.S. Judicial Conference.
The conference, composed of 27 federal judges and headed by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, approved the three-year experiment last September. Individual courts then were invited to volunteer.
Those selected are federal appellate courts based in San Francisco and New York City, and U.S. District Courts in Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington.
A final report submitted Friday to the Judicial Conference by a special committee said, "The selection of large courts would bring more judges into the program, and their location in metropolitan news markets would likely generate greater media activity."
Beginning in July, broad-cast and photographic access will be allowed in civil cases in the selected courts. Judges will have broad discretion to reject requests for coverage.
Cameras and radio equipment have been banned from federal courts since 1937, but 45 state court systems allow some form of broadcast or photographic coverage of their proceedings.
The federal experiment, to run through June 1994, will be monitored by the Federal Judicial Center, a study group for the federal courts.
The six trial courts selected for the experiment, and the cities in which those courts convene, are:
Southern district of Indiana: Indianapolis; Evansville; Muncie; New Albany and Terre Haute.
District of Massachusetts: Boston.
Eastern district of Michigan: Detroit; Ann Arbor; Bay City; Flint and Port Huron.
Southern district of New York: New York City.
Eastern district of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia.
Western district of Washington: Seattle and Tacoma.
The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hears cases from Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
The New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hears cases from New York, Connecticut and Vermont.
The report to the conference said six of the 13 nation's federal appeals courts and 13 district courts had volunteered for the experiment. It did not say which courts were passed over.