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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 93495 Find in a Library
Title: Media Technology, Fair Trial, and the Citizen's Right to Know
Journal: New York State Bar Journal  Volume:54  Issue:6  Dated:(October 1982)  Pages:364-376
Author(s): P Douglass
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 6
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Despite the general acceptance of cameras as aids in communications, adjudicators have continued to bar them from the courtroom. The legal issue stands on three legs: the 1st amendment (freedom of speech), the 6th amendment (speedy and impartial trial), and the 14th amendment (equal protection under law).
Abstract: In the early part of this century, William Hearst argued that it was the right of the publisher, not the judges, to determine what was to be published. As he spoke, judges in another part of the country tossed his photographers out of their courtrooms and arrested his editors for contempt of court. The circus atmosphere of the 1934 Lindbergh baby trial compelled the American Bar Association to adopt guidelines banning cameras in the courtroom. This was 10 years before the arrival of television as a viable medium. In 1979, the New York State Court of Appeals invited television and press photographers into its sanctum for the first time. The television crews set up their equipment in such a way as not to diminsh or alter the appearance and formality of the courtroom. There was general satisfaction with this experiment. The general assessment was that this was a positive and useful step which should (1) serve the objective of informing the public meaningfully of what transpires in the highest court of the State, (2) create a unique educational tool for those concerned with the law, and (3) demonstrate how cameras might successfully work within the courtroom. While the leading opponent of cameras in the courtroom recommends an immediate moratorium on televised trials to provide time for further study, Florida mediacasters televise proceedings almost daily. A third of the States have already permanently authorized such coverage. Perhaps the strongest argument in favor of televised trials is the fact that television is the principal source of news for more than two-thirds of the American public. The article lists 20 arguments against mediacasting, based primarily on concerns of the effect cameras would have on the trials, the deception and mythology inherent in television, and court precedents. Eleven notes accompany the text.
Index Term(s): Courtroom decorum; Courtroom proceedings broadcasting; Media coverage
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