Ceremony Essay, Research Paper
Title: Television Cameras in the Courtroom
Televised court cases stand accused of ruining defendant’s lives and making a mockery of The judicial process. Many defendants including O.J have made this accusation. Simpson, accused of murdering his ex-wife and her male friend, and Former British Nanny Louise Woodward. Accused of murdering a child in her care.
Many defendants claim that by televising their trials they were deprived of a “fair and impartial jury” swaying public opinion and giving much unwanted attention, not only to themselves but their families as well. Others claimed it trivialized the justice system.
Television cameras are as commonplace in courtrooms in America as televisions in every household. Ten years ago section 131-1 (a) of the Uniform Rules reminded us that “audio-visual coverage of court proceedings is justified because an enhanced public understanding of the
judicial system is important in maintaining a high level of public confidence in the judiciary.”
In the ten years since this section went into effect we have seen increasing television coverage of trials across the country. And according to a poll taken by the California Court system public confidence in the system has plunged. Does the televised aspect of trials bring
better public understanding of our system and create a “fear” that “this too will happen to you if you commit a Crime?” Or is it merely another form of entertainment for an already over stimulated (by television that is) society?” A soap opera in the courtroom.
Some say that having cameras in the courtroom are a crime themselves. They are guilty of causing intimidation of witnesses, intrusion of privacy and making television executives richer. Others argue that cameras play a key part in educating the public that has a right to know. My question is has a right to know what? They read the paper and see that a person is arrested and brought to trial for a crime. Do they have the right to watch this epic tale unfold based on public viewing being educational If that is the case couldn’t they go to a courtroom and witness a “live” trial instead of watching on television? Without turning into a television soap opera?
I believe that the courtroom has been a mix of drama, history and inquiry into truth. How can an atmosphere like that survive with millions of unseen eyes watching? Is the court there to provide entertainment for people? I don’t believe so. The purpose of the courts is not education or spectacle or public entertainment, but justice, and how can justice truly be served when often times a defendant is proven guilty before they are presumed innocent?