There have been numerous instances in which the media has been accused of conducting the trial of the accused and passing a verdict even before the court reached its judgment. Media trials cause undue interference in the delivery of justice, a process that should be carried out by courts. Based on research and understanding, answer the following questions:
1. Analyze and explain what are the pros and cons of having television cameras in the courtroom. Analyze whether routine televised coverage of trials influence the participants, including the judge. What differences can be seen in the demeanor of attorneys in a real televised trial and a fictional trial?
2. Does being a celebrity make a defendant more or less likely to receive a fair trial due to the media attention and publicity? Why or why not? Should there be more information safeguards and security for defendants who are in the public eye?
3. Trials that were highly publicized in the last twenty years include those of Louise Woodward, O. J. Simpson, the Menendez brothers, Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson, and William Kennedy Smith. Analyze and explain whether there were any issues of national importance in these trials. Were these cases representative of normal judicial proceedings? Why or why not? Analyze whether it the public's right to know the details about the participants in these cases.
Live Television Coverage in Courtrooms
The issue about television live coverage of court proceedings has strong supporters and critics. As several jurors and analysts have admitted, there are logical and considerate arguments from both sides.
Right to get informed
The public has the right to know how justice is delivered on some cases that are of their interest. This can only happen if court proceedings are aired live on television. Since we are in a democratic world, the legal proceedings should be seen by everybody who wants to watch or follow the case as it is. Judges have been criticized over judgments they deliver and it is fair that citizens get to watch exactly how process is handled in courtrooms.
- Increase more faith and trust in Judiciary
For some reasons, people have gave up and lost hope in the judicial system. That has led to some cases being settled outside the courtroom than taking them to court with an expectation that justice will be denied or delayed in favor of another party. However, when proceedings are brought live on air through television, things become clearer and trust is restored in the judicial system.
Some embarrassing questions always erupt during the proceedings that also taint even the innocent to prove a point. The videos from courtrooms always go round especially in social media and that reminds the participants about the awkwardness. It is uncomfortable in cases such as of rape or to the innocents framed as well.
With live coverage in the courtrooms, it is very difficult to protect the identity of the witness or victims. In some cases, the victims or participants involved in different cases may face harsh judgment of the community in a negative way.
Routine televised live coverage of courtroom proceedings influences the accomplices as well as the jurors. Live coverage encourages fairness as there will be no room to give the verdict based on what has not been argued out by the participants (Herz, 2016). Witnesses may also fail to turn up for fear of their lives. This is because their identity cannot be hidden. The conduct of attorneys in live televised proceedings is more recommendable; this is because they have to consider all reliable evidence to decide as compared to a fictional courtroom proceedings.
Does being a celebrity make a defendant more or less likely to receive a fair trial due to the media attention and publicity? Why or why not? Should there be more information safeguards and security for defendants who are in the public eye?
Being a celebrity may affect the case an individual during the trial. For example; Nomi Campbell a supermodel pleaded guilty in assaulting her maid but was allowed to cop to a misdemeanor. This shows that celebrities sometimes receive special treatment in a court of law (Belmas & Overbeck, 2014). The media tends to manipulate the perception of people towards the character. This eventually affects the case to some degree.
Information protections are important in security matters about the defendant. Many information safeties and security for the defendant may not be reliable. This is because many information safeguards may be a liability to manipulation from different parties involved. If the information were to be leaked, then it would be difficult to discover the source. On the other hand, there should be more security on the defendant for better protection to both him and even the witnesses. This will prevent him from interfering with the case both directly and indirectly.
The O.J Simpson case
The case involving O.J Simpson was watched closely by over 150 million Americans. This resulted in the public playing a role in the final verdict. The case was also affected by racism factors (The OJ Simpson trials: Where are they now?, 2017). The trials involving Scott Peterson, O.J Simpson, and the Menendez did not represent normal judicial proceedings (The Menendez brothers murder their parents, n.d.). This is evident due to the manipulation of the cases by the public. It is not necessary for the public to know more details about the participants in these cases. Public influences the opinions concerning certain individuals and that may affect the general verdict negatively.
Martha Stewart case
Stewart’s decoration in prison was of public importance. This was an example to the public that nothing can stop you from pursuing your dream.
Martha Stewart`s imprisonment meant to provide an example of equivalent justice for celebrities.
On the other hand, media focused on Stewart’s case for different reasons. They were protecting their kind from intimidation from the public. They also had to conduct Media coverage due to the concern by the public.
Belmas, G., & Overbeck, W. (2014). Major Principles of Media Law, 2015. Cengage Learning.
Herz, R. (2016, July 27). What are the implications of television cameras in the courtroom? Retrieved from Panel Forum: https://www.penalreform.org/blog/what-are-the-implications-of-television-cameras-in/
The Menendez brothers murder their parents. (n.d.). Retrieved from A&E Television Networks: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-menendez-brothers-murder-their-parents
The OJ Simpson trials: Where are they now? (2017, July 20). Retrieved from BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40667329