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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76418 Find in a Library
Title: Television in the Courts
Journal: State Court Journal  Volume:5  Issue:1  Dated:(Winter 1981)  Pages:6-12,24-28
Author(s): C A Carter
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 12
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The controversy over televised coverage of courtroom proceedings is discussed with regard to recent Supreme Court cases, the position of the American Bar Association (ABA), and conflicting constitutional rights.
Abstract: Whether television cameras and related apparatus should be permitted in the Nation's courtrooms has been debated since 1937, when the ABA adopted Canon 35 prohibiting cameras in the courtroom. However, the Supreme Court's 1965 ruling in a similar case, Estes v. Texas, does not provide a clear view on the constitutionality of televising courtroom proceedings. A ruling by the Court in the recently argued Chandler v. Florida case could affect the status of rules allowing electronic and photographic media coverage of judicial proceedings in some 27 States and the direction of future action in other States. As of October 1980, 11 States had promulgated permanent court rules permitting such coverage; 16 other States had adopted experimental rules permitting coverage. Despite the favorable outcome of coverage experiments and the trend in State legislation, the ABA remains opposed to televised proceedings. Often, those who oppose televised coverage have had little or no experience with the actual coverage conditions. In addition, many opponents have overlooked the effect of carefully formulated guidelines governing such coverage. The primary concern of most opponents to courtroom photography is the adverse psychological impact that cameras present to the various trial participants. The televising of judicial proceedings affects four conflicting constitutional rights, including the right to a fair trial, the right to privacy, first amendment rights, and the right to a public trial. Supporters of the movement note that the public's right to observe judicial proceedings may contribute to curbing judicial abuses and encouraging witness veracity. In addition, the courts traditionally have held that the right to a public trial belongs to the defendant. The article concludes that unless television coverage is shown to actually endanger a fair trial, an absolute prohibition on courtroom photography may be unconstitutional. A map, a photograph, and 99 reference notes are included.
Index Term(s): American Bar Association (ABA); Courtroom proceedings broadcasting; Fair trial-free press; Judicial decisions; Media coverage; Right to fair trial; Rights of the accused; State courts; Trials
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