Pictures Banned at Donald Trump’s Trial After Photographer Broke Rule

Donald Trump
Donald Trump leaving a Manhattan court in April 2023. | Adam Gray

Photography has been banned inside the courtroom during former President Donald Trump’s New York City hush money trial — after a pool photographer broke a longstanding rule.

The former president is currently facing a criminal trial in New York City. Trump is facing 34 counts of falsifying business records over an allegedly $130,000 hush-money payment to the adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

On May 9, New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan forbid photographers from taking any more pictures of Trump in the courtroom during the trial.

According to court officials, the ban came after a photographer allegedly violated a longstanding court order by taking a picture of the former from the aisle while walking into the well of the courtroom. The order permits photographers to take photos only from the well itself.

The term “well” describes the area not accessible to the public where court proceedings take place.

“A still photojournalist who was being led with colleagues into courtroom 15:30 on Tuesday morning to take the daily photograph broke an established rule in photographing from outside the well,” Court spokesperson Al Baker tells Newsweek.

“Judge Merchan was consulted and has determined that for now no photography from the courtroom will be permitted.”

The policy, if unchanged, is consequential as it will mean that no pictures of the former president will be transmitted from the courtroom during the trial, which is expected to last for several more weeks.

Prior to the ban, pool photographers were allowed to enter the courtroom and take pictures of Trump after he sat at the defense table. The photographers when then ushered out before proceedings began.

Photographers are now only allowed to take pictures of Trump in the hallway outside of the courtroom.

A Photography Ban That Has Been Criticized

Several political commentators and journalists have criticized Judge Merchan’s ban on photography in the New York City courtroom — with author Brian Stelter lamenting how the “public’s views of the Trump trial is becoming even more limited.”

Trump is the first U.S. president to ever face criminal charges in an American courtroom. However, only a handful of observers have been able to see what is going on during the historic trial.

While photography was previously been permitted inside the courtroom throughout the trial, filming has never been allowed. This is because New York state law regarding media coverage of court proceedings is one of the most restrictive in the U.S.

Some New York officials have condemned the lack of live media coverage and photography in the courtroom during Trump’s hush money trial.

“We’re the media capital of the world, we like to think, and the fact that cameras aren’t permitted in one of our three branches of government is unacceptable,” Democratic New York State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, who sponsored a bill to try to change that, tells AP News.

“It’s one of the most consequential trials of our modern age. I think the public has a right to see exactly what happens in that courtroom.”


Image credits: Header photo by Adam Gray.