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Billie Sol Estes court case from the 60's first to allow cameras in the courtroom

By Betty Nguyen, bnguyen@ktxs.com
Published On: May 15 2013 06:15:01 PM CDT
Updated On: May 15 2013 09:34:00 PM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

An infamous West Texan made history when he went to court back in the 1960's.

The late Billie Sol Estes was convicted of many crimes, but it was his first court appearance in 1965 for fraud and swindling millions of dollars that got national attention.

That was the first time cameras were allowed inside the court room to film.

At the time, Estes argued against cameras recording his trial. He claimed his 14th amendment rights would be violated by the publicity.

The media argued their first amendment rights would be violated if they were denied access to the court room. The media said the public had the right to know and that the publicity would help ensure a fair trial for Estes.

Ultimately, the media won the battle, but only a small part of the hearing was actually telecast live.

As a result, cameras are now often permitted inside court rooms, but they have to ask for permission and the final decision is left up to the presiding judge.

Estes died Tuesday at the age of 88.