MINNEAPOLIS — For decades, Minnesota has resisted allowing cameras in courtrooms for the usual arguments — lawyers would grandstand, witnesses would be intimidated, decorum would be disrupted if public proceedings were recorded and broadcast.

Under rules that allowed the judge, prosecutors or defense attorneys to veto camera coverage during the trial phase, seeing a Minnesota trial on TV “would be as common as running into a unicorn in deer hunting season,” as media attorney Mark Anfinson put it.

But video coverage of high-profile sentencings — which don’t require approval from the parties involved — is giving a more frequent glimpse inside Minnesota courts. That’s cheered advocates of openness in the court system, even as they wish for easier access at the trial phase

“It’s a definite first step. It’s not the finish line,” said Anfinson, who has seen an increasing number of video requests from news organizations since the state court system launched a pilot project in 2015.

When former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor was sentenced this month to 12½ years in prison for fatally shooting Justine Ruszczyk Damond while answering her 911 call in 2017, viewers could see and hear Noor’s halting delivery as he apologized, hear the victim’s fiance Don Damond mourn the future he and his bride-to-be would not share and hear the judge tell Noor “Good people sometimes do bad things” as she rejected his plea for leniency.

Showing courtroom action goes beyond artists’ sketches and allows people to see and hear it for themselves, said Suki Dardarian, senior managing editor at Minnesota’s largest newspaper, the Star Tribune.

“You really do, as a member of the community, get to experience it yourself when you hear Justine Damond’s fiance speak, when you heard Noor speak, when you hear the judge speak. You couldn’t help but feel the emotion each of those people felt,” Dardarian said.

She said to witness that through video — “without anyone being in the way” — is “pretty powerful.”

Noor’s sentencing coincided with cameras filming other high-profile cases recently in Hennepin County, including the man who threw a 5-year-old boy off a balcony at Mall of America and a teenager who crashed a stolen SUV into a pickup, killing three people.

Minnesota is more conservative than neighbors Wisconsin, Iowa and North Dakota in allowing cameras in courts. Defense attorneys who don’t want their clients on camera, victims’ advocates who worry about victims being traumatized again, judges and prosecutors have opposed expanding Minnesota’s rules, Anfinson said.

(The Minnesota County Attorneys Association said it would implement the new rules but was “strongly opposed to any further expansion of audio and video coverage in criminal cases.”)

But Anfinson added: “There’s just no support at all that really can demonstrate empirically that these concerns are well grounded.”

Modern cameras are unobtrusive, and gone are the days of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping trial “where you had to run and call it in,” said University of Minnesota professor Jane Kirtley, who directs the Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law.

And while the sensational O.J. Simpson murder trial of 25 years ago is “the poster child of why cameras in the court are a bad thing” to many judges, Kirtley said, those trial’s excesses “had very little to do within the courtroom.”

Washington County’s lead prosecutor, Pete Orput, said he has no problem with the new sentencing rules and would like to see electronic coverage expanded as long as victims are protected. Doing so would help people understand what goes on in courts, he said.

“Why not publicize a trial? It doesn’t have to be a circus,” Orput said.