10 years since cameras allowed in South Dakota courtrooms

Local News

HURON, SD (KELO) — A murder trial gaveled-in legal history at a South Dakota courtroom ten years ago Thursday. The case in Huron marked the first time TV cameras were allowed to record court proceedings in the state. Closing arguments in the case set the stage for cameras in the courtroom.

South Dakotans didn’t have to wait long to see the very first court case unfold on their TVs and computer screens. On the same day a new law went into effect allowing cameras in the courtroom, KELOLAND TV broadcasted live the closing arguments in the murder trial of Edwin Thompson. The Huron man was charged in the 2009 beating death of Ryan Treadway.

“The truth is, Ryan, 21-years old, died a horrible death on November first. In this state, that’s called murder in the second-degree,” Beadle County State’s Attorney Michael More said in 2011.

Thompson’s attorney said Thompson was mentally ill at the time of the killing.

“I’m going to talk about the evidence in this case which points directly to the fact that the defendant did not know right from wrong in those moments when the life was being snuffed-out of another individual,” Thompson attorney Ron Volesky said in 2011.

The South Dakota legislature repealed a ban on cameras in the courtroom earlier that year. But both prosecutors and the defense, along with the judge have to agree to allow the proceedings to be electronically recorded.

Our cameras were rolling again as the jury announced its verdict, finding Thompson guilty, but mentally ill. That case gave South Dakotans their first clearer picture of the inner-workings of our judicial system, making courtrooms more transparent to the public for the past decade, and into the future.

Cameras likely won’t be in the courtroom when Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg goes to trial for his role in the crash that killed Joe Boever. Ravnsborg’s attorney has filed paperwork objecting to cameras or audio equipment during his trial which is scheduled to begin late next month.

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