Cameras in the Courtroom

Erik Lane, these syndicated court television shows provide significant entertainment to the public, but often mislead them into how the criminal Justice system really works (Lane, 2007). In this paper, I will be discussing several arguments for and against the use of videotapes and cameras in the courtroom and the Jury deliberation room. The arguments for and against cameras in the courtroom have been made by the media who believes they have the right to the freedom of speech ND the courtroom working group who believes the accused have the right to privacy (Gets & Taller, 1957).

BY Taylor By: Justine Taylor related research material from professional Journals, online news sites, and professional internet sites about cameras being placed in the courtroom and Jury deliberation room. The arguments made from those who believe cameras should be allowed in the courtroom is that the First Amendment allows for freedom of speech and freedom of the press and the public would be educated on the workings of the criminal Justice system.

The First Amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (Weakest). Justice Felix Frankfurter recognized that there should be some type of relationship between the media and court personnel because of the constitution. Justice Frankfurter stated that “Freedom of the press, properly conceive, is basic to our constitutional system.

Safeguards for the fair administration of criminal Justice are enshrined in our Bill of Rights” (Nazis, 2006). This opinion made by Justice Frankfurter was in 1950 and still today this debate has not been fully resolved. The media believes that the First Amendment gives them the right to report trials in any fashion they see fit. The media believes that the lawyers and Judges have intentional violated the First Amendment by withholding trial related information on purpose.

Gees and Taller note the newspapers and media have complained that withholding any information pertaining to a trial “undermines the constitutional right of the freedom of the press” (Gees & Taller, 1957). But many opponents believe that the swappers are in the profit of business and not in the arena of accurately reporting the news. But the media argues that they can not accurately report the news if they are not receiving information from the most important people in the courtroom, the lawyers and Judges (Match, 1999).

Nazis noted that not receiving this information and being suppressed to report information violates that First Amendment (Nazis, 2006). The U. S. Supreme Court ruled in Nebraska Press Association v. Stewart, that a gag order that prevented the press from reporting obtained records was a violation of the First Amendment (Weakest). This ruling was important because, according to Nazis, it showed the courts that they could not prohibit the media from reporting legally obtained records (Nazis, 2006). The ruling also helped establish some type control between the court system and the media on the issue of the freedom of the press.

The proponents of cameras in the courtroom also believe that televised trials would educate the public on courtroom procedure and rules of the court. The media believes that as the viewers watch real trials on television, they would become more aware of the rules of the court and they would become more aware of the basic loud educate the public would be the all famous 0. 1. Simpson trial. The 0. 1. Simpson trial educated the public on rules of evidence with the “bloody glove” display, the cross-examination of key witnesses with the examination of Mark Farman, and what role the Judge plays in the process.

The media believes that if cameras where not allowed inside 0. 1. Simpson trial, then the public for the most part would still not understand the true workings of the court system. Chamberlains Poodles note that televised trials will educate the public by giving them a reference for hat the court system is, “its fairness, and who the arbiters of Justice are” (Poodles, 2001). Poodles also explains that the 0. 1. Simpson trial lead more people to watch and gain a understanding and respect for the Judicial system as well as gaining knowledge of the legal concepts and burdens of the system (Poodles, 2001).

Just like the arguments made for cameras in the courtroom and the Jury deliberation room by the media, the courtroom working group which consists of the judge, defense attorney, prosecutor and the Jury have there arguments against cameras in the courtroom and Jury deliberation room. Some of the arguments that have made are cameras can sway Jury members and Judges in voting a certain way, the rights of the defendant privacy and witnesses who testify, cameras disrupts court proceedings and cameras in the courtroom violates the Canons of Judicial Ethics. In 1945, the U.

S. Supreme Court issued the Canons of Judicial Ethics which state “Proceedings in court should be conducted with fitting dignity and decorum. The taking of photographs in the courtroom during session, and the broadcasting or televising of court proceedings will degrade the court and create a misconception tit respect thereto in the mind of the public, and should be permitted” (Weakest). With the ethics in place the opponents of camera in the courtroom believe that the cameras would distract witnesses and violate the Judicial ethics set forth by the U. S. Supreme Court.

Circuit Judge Charles Hayden stated that in part the taking of pictures in the courtroom distracts from the serious business of the trial and “will lend itself to the nature of public entertainment rather than vital Judicial inquiry’ (Gees & Taller, 1957). Professor Gordon Brewer points out that no matter how he proponents of cameras in the courtroom argue that the cameras are not a distraction; the mere presents of cameras in the courtroom would bound to be a distraction (Gees & Taller, 1957). The second argument against cameras in the courtroom is that the cameras would sway Jury members and Judges in voting a certain way.

The argument is made that voting could be swayed by the Jury and Judge because the members would be since the camera is on them; they would have to vote according to public opinion. For this reason, many Judges would sequester the Jury on high profile cases. The Jury loud not be able to watch television or read the newspaper in fear the public Match explained that since instant replay was introduced into sports, the authority of game officials have been “eroded” and many officials are now trying to make judgment calls knowing the cameras would catch the mistake (Match, 1999).

This can relate to the Judges and Jury as well because with them knowing the cameras are watching, they would try to play to the camera and audience and not to the facts of the trial. Leister believes the Judges and lawyers may play to the camera and try to create a celebrity status for themselves (Leister, 1996). Lassitude’s example of a defense attorney, who admitted to tiptoeing around a tough cross examination because he did not want to appear insensitive on national television, is part of the reason the proponents of cameras in the courtroom have argued that cameras on hurt the proceeding and not help the case (Leister, 1996).

The last argument from proponents of cameras in the courtroom is that the rights of the defendant, witnesses and family members should be taken into account. Many believe that the defendant should be allowed to choose if he/she will allow cameras to televise there Arial. This is because at the end of the day, the defendant would be the only person affect by the decision of the Judge and Jury. The argument earlier that the members would play for the camera would have the end effect on the defendant’s case.

Many proponents also believe that witnesses would be traumatized having to watch there embarrassing testimony on public television. This would lead witnesses not wanting to testify and cases being thrown out of court due to the witnesses not wanting to testify. Nazis notes that “avoiding embarrassing situations or unnecessary pressures n witnesses, especially victims, outweighs the publics interest in obtaining information” (Nazis, 2006). Proponents believe that the law does not consider cameras in the courtroom a right to privacy issue because trials, by law, are a public matter.

But the opponents believe that this right was held in Commonwealth v. Hobbs where the Judge held “that the right to an open trial is important, it is not absolute… When the right of the defendant to have a fair trial is at stake” (Nazis, 2006). In conclusion, I believe that cameras in the courtroom would affect the defendant’s right to a fair trial. The right of “due process” would be at stake because potential Jury and Judge’s verdicts would, in some cases, be swayed by public opinion. The problem would be how to determine if the verdict was based upon facts or public opinion.

In cases where public opinion in the community, many lawyers, would ask for a change of venue due to there clients not being able to received a fair trial. This principle would be the same for allowing cameras in the courtroom. I believe the defendant should have the right to want or not want cameras at his trial. The defendant would be the person who would have to rely on he verdict, no matter of being partial or impartial. There is no clear solution to the problem since the media and court have the law on there side, but once we allow they were watching “American Idol”.

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