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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 98713 Find in a Library
Title: Clash of Free Press and Fair Trial Rights in the ABSCAM Cases
Journal: Criminal Justice Journal  Volume:7  Issue:2  Dated:(Summer 1984)  Pages:203-250
Author(s): R G Frey
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 48
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article (1) reviews the situations in ABSCAM (the FBI operation that led to the conviction of various public officials for accepting money for legislative favors) which produced court tests of three free press/fair trial issues and (2) discusses the court decisions in those cases.
Abstract: Background material considers the constitutional bases of and decisions on the free press/fair trial conflict in the areas of defamation, general press publicity that prejudices the trial process, and press access to case proceedings and the government's right of access to press information. The discussion of these issues in the ABSCAM context notes that the major free press/fair trial conflicts concerned access to information rather than the publication of information. One situation involved media objections to closure of two hearings to the public and the press; another situation, efforts by the media to gain access to videotapes in the court's possession; a third, efforts by the defendants and the court to obtain information about news leaks from a reporter. The article recounts events surrounding these conflicts. The closure case illustrates an appellate court's careful attempt to frame practical rules sensitive to conflicting interests. The tape cases indicate the magnitude of judicial discretion. Overall, the cases illustrate the flexible nature of the court tests used to resolve free press/fair trial conflicts. A total of 155 footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Corruption of public officials; Fair trial-free press; Freedom of the press; Judicial decisions
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