Sensible resolution to cameras-in-courtroom dispute

I’m glad we had a simple resolution to the cameras-in-the-courtroom issue that arose with Clarence “Eddie” Pridemore, Knox County’s newest chancellor. Pridemore’s election sparked controversy because he knocked off a widely respected incumbent, Daryl Fansler, in an election that had little to do with credentials and much to do with partisanship.

Knox County Chancery Court Judge Clarence "Eddie" Pridemore.

Knox County Chancellor Clarence “Eddie” Pridemore.

Notice posted on Chancellor Pridemore's courtroom door.

Notice posted on Pridemore’s courtroom door.

Pridemore’s ascension to office was newsworthy, so last week the News Sentinel filed a request to use cameras in the courtroom during his first day on the bench according to the Supreme Court’s “Rule 30.” Under the rule, these requests are to be granted unless one of the parties involved believes the photography will undermine the decorum or safety of the courtroom. If that happens, the judge is to hold a hearing, if possible, before issuing a ruling.

In this case, however, Chancellor Pridemore just sent an unsigned order through the clerk and master’s office saying cameras wouldn’t be permitted in his courtroom all week. We contacted our attorney, Rick Hollow, and he began working through Clerk and Master Howard Hogan to get the decision reversed. If Pridemore had stuck to his position, Hollow would have sought a hearing on the matter. We and WBIR-TV were prepared to appeal, if necessary.

Happily, though, Pridemore had a notice posted on his courtroom door this morning saying that cameras were to be permitted. I’d hoped for such an outcome. We didn’t want to pick a legal fight with the new chancellor his first day on the bench, but at the same time we had to stand up for the Rule 30 process.