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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 70167 Find in a Library
Title: Television in Our Courts - The Proven Advantages, the Unproven Dangers
Journal: Judicature  Volume:64  Issue:2  Dated:(August 1980)  Pages:85-92
Author(s): N Davis
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 8
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Observations on thhe benefits of televised courtroom trials as initiated in the Florida courts and rebuttal of arguments against the practice are presented.
Abstract: For 2 years television cameras have been given access to all State courts in Florida on a daily basis. As a result, approximately 36 States now permit photographic coverage or are actively considering it. Opponents of televised trials oftern criticize the 'spectacle' of the 'trial conducted in an arena' Such criticism is basically unjustified when an analogous use of the media is considered. Television has subtly altered the legislative process for the better. Televised debates and legislative hearings are more structured, and sponsors of bills are far more careful to give the viewing public adequate explanation of what the proposed measure will effect. Critics also charge that televised trials will create unjust notoriety for participants. This argument is also unpersuasive; no cameras were present at the trials of Patty Hearst, Sacco and Vanzetti, and the Chicago Seven; yet all of them were notorious trials. The televised trial provides an informative, educational representation of the justice system. Viewers see a slow process which is low-key, rules which are complex, and arguments which focus on technical procedure. In addition, the right of the public to observe the process has been underscored by the United States Supreme Court's 1980 landmark decision in 'Richmond Newspapers, Inc, v. Virginia.' While the Court did not specifically address the issue of cameras in the courtroom, the implications regarding the rights of the general public seem to support the trend. Problems which could be presented by inappropriate use of television have been anticipated and eliminated in Florida. The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that the presiding judge may exclude electronic media from such cases as rape trials and child custody suits. In terms of media coverage of the courts, television appears to be the effective direction of the future. Footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Courtroom proceedings broadcasting; Florida; Media coverage; Public education; Television communications
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