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NCJ Number: 68163 Find in a Library
Title: ELECTRONIC MEDIA IN THE COURTROOM
Journal: CASE AND COMMENT  Volume:85  Issue:3  Dated:(MAY-JUNE 1980)  Pages:3-4,6,8-10
Author(s): J R BROHOLM
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 7
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THIS ARTICLE DISCUSSES THE ATTITUDES OF COURT PERSONNEL AND NEWSPERSONS TOWARD ELECTRONIC MEDIA COVERAGE OF COURTROOM TRIALS.
Abstract: THE ESTES V. TEXAS DECISION IN 1965 KICKED TELEVISION OUT THE COURTROOM DOOR, BUT LEFT THE DOOR OPEN AS THE DECISION DID NOT DECIDE ON THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF CAMERAS IN THE COURT. THE FREEDOM GRANTED TO THE PRESS MUST BE SUBJECT TO THE MAINTENANCE OF ABSOLUTE FAIRNESS IN THE JUDICIAL PROCESS, AND PERVASIVE TELEVISION COVERAGE MIGHT CAUSE ACTUAL PREJUDICE ON THE PART OF THE JURIES, RESULTING IN THE REVERSAL OF TRIALS. BROADCAST TECHNOLOGY SEEMS TO HAVE COME UP WITH WAYS TO AVOID BEING A BLATANT, NOISY OBSERVER, BUT TELEVISION WILL ALWAYS HAVE THE PROBLEM OF VISIBILITY OF ITS CAMERAS. THE MINICAMS HAVE TAKEN AWAY THE CAMERAS' BULKINESS, THE NOISE, AND THE BRIGHT LIGHTS. THE PROBLEM IS NOW THE ATTITUDE OF THE MANY JUDGES WHO ARE MISTRUSTFUL OF THE PRESS AND DOUBLY SO OF THE BROADCAST PRESS. A FLORIDA JUDGE LISTED NINE REASONS FOR WHY CAMERAS CAUSED PROBLEMS AND PREJUDICE: (1) POTENTIAL IMPACT ON JURORS; (2) POSSIBLE IMPAIRMENT OF QUALITY OF TESTIMONY; (3) FRUSTRATION OF WITNESS RULE; (4) ADDITIONAL TIME-CONSUMING RESPONSIBILITIES ON THE JUDGE; (5) ADVERSE IMPACT ON DEFENDANT; (6) EDITORIAL COMMENT ON SPOT COVERAGE; (7) PRETRIAL AND PREJUDICIAL PUBLICITY; (8) IMPACT ON TRIALS INVOLVING MULTIPLE CRIMES AND MULTIPLE DEFENDANTS; AND (9) COST TO COURT TO SEQUESTER. THE COURTS HAVE TO PRESERVE A FAIR TRIAL, WHILE MEDIA HAS EQUAL CONSTITUTIONAL AND CASE LAW PROTECTION IN ITS COVERAGE OF ISSUES OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE. THE YEAR-LONG EXPERIMENT IN FLORIDA TURNED OUT FAVORABLE TO THE MEDIA, AND NOW FLORIDA COURTROOMS ARE OPEN TO TELEVISION CAMERAS. THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION CENTER SUGGESTS A POOLING ARRAGNEMENT FOR RADIO AND TELEVISION, CAMERA ROOMS OR ONE STATIONARY POSITION IN THE BACK OF THE COURTROOM, NO LIGHTS, LIMITED AND INCONSPICUOUS MICROPHONE PLACEMENT, NOISELESS EQUIPMENT, AND JUDGE'S DISCRETION TO STOP BROADCASTING IF REQUESTED BY POLICE OR WITNESSES. FOOTNOTES ARE INCLUDED. (JLF)
Index Term(s): Attitudes; Courtroom proceedings broadcasting; Florida; Judicial discretion; Pretrial publicity
Note: REPRINTED FROM JOURNAL OF THE MISSOURI BAR
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=68163

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