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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The state Supreme Court’s permanent order to allow television and still cameras in the courtroom was applauded Monday by a University of Tennessee law professor.

Neil Cohen said televised coverage of Tennessee trials the past year on an experimental basis enlightened viewers and did not interfere with the judicial process.

The Supreme Court earlier Monday issued a permanent order that allows TV and still cameras in the state’s courtrooms.

A one-year experimental rule, which began last Jan. 1, served the public interest, the justices said.

“The experiment was a good one. It caused minimal disruption in terms of providing a vehicle for the public to see (a trial),” Neil Cohen said.

“It gives the judge the authority to suspend coverage in those unusual cases where coverage would be inappropriate or harmful to the participants or the system.”

At the start of the televised criminal trial of O.J. Simpson, charged with killing his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman several years ago, Cohen opposed the TV coverage. He later softened his opposition.

“It may be the O.J. case was too big for the media; the media did interfere with what went on,” Cohen said.

“In the normal case we’re seeing in Tennessee, the media are not interfering in any way with what is happening in the trial and is not preventing us from getting juries.”

Cohen specializes in criminal and constitutional law.

Contact: Neil Cohen (423-974-6855)