On Monday night, a Fulton County, Georgia grand jury indicted Donald Trump—along with 18 others, including some of his top advisers—for attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the state. The former president has been criminally charged five times (with a superseding indictment in the federal classified documents case). But the most recent indictment in Georgia was the first time the public got to see the process play out in real time. “Viewers saw it all live, with the indictment walked down the hallway on the eighth floor of this courthouse, presented to the judge, who reviewed it, sent it back to the clerk’s office—I mean, we’re really watching the wheels turn here in real time,” said NBC’s Garrett Haake. “This is what open court looks like,” said MSNBC’s Ari Melber.
There may be much more to watch yet in Georgia. Unlike in federal or New York Courts, where Trump’s three previous arrangements occurred, “Georgia law requires that cameras be allowed into judicial proceedings with a judge’s approval,” NBC reports. “In Georgia, a judge needs a good reason to bar media from courtrooms—like a juvenile witness or victim—and no such case exists in the case of Donald Trump,” according to Atlanta News First. At Trump’s arraignment in Manhattan, where he faces charges on hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, still photos were briefly allowed at the start of the proceeding; none were allowed at his arraignment in Miami, where he faces charges related to his possession of classified documents. And no video has been allowed inside the federal court rooms, as Axios notes.
And it’s not only the arraignment that will likely be coming to a television near you: Georgia may be the only opportunity for the public to see Trump on trial. As I've reported, the current ban on cameras in federal courtrooms could prevent the public from witnessing what might be the most important criminal trials in modern history. Some experts and lawmakers have called for the camera policy to change, a decision that Chief Justice John Roberts, as chair of the Judicial Conference, the policy-setting body of the federal judiciary, could make. Even Trump's own lawyer argued that cameras should be allowed in the federal courtroom.
The case in Georgia “takes on major additional significance because Georgia courts require criminal trials generally to be televised,” former acting US solicitor general Neal Katyal tweeted.