TV or Not TV: Television, Justice, and the Courts

Overview

In the last quarter century, televised court proceedings have gone from an outlandish idea to a seemingly inevitable reality. Yet,debate continues to rage over the dangers and benefits to the justice system of cameras in the courtroom. Critics contend television transforms the temple of justice into crass theatre. Supporters maintain that silent cameras portray "the real thing," that without them judicial reality is inevitably filtered through the mind and pens of a finite pool ...

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TV or Not TV: Television, Justice, and the Courts

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Overview

In the last quarter century, televised court proceedings have gone from an outlandish idea to a seemingly inevitable reality. Yet,debate continues to rage over the dangers and benefits to the justice system of cameras in the courtroom. Critics contend television transforms the temple of justice into crass theatre. Supporters maintain that silent cameras portray "the real thing," that without them judicial reality is inevitably filtered through the mind and pens of a finite pool of reporters.

Television in a courtroom is clearly a two-edged sword, both invasive and informative. Bringing a trial to the widest possible audience creates pressures and temptations for all participants. While it reduces speculations and fears about what transpired, television sometimes forces the general public, which possesses information the jury may not have, into a conflicting assessment of specific cases and the justice system in general.

TV or Not TV argues convincingly that society gains much more than it loses when trials are open to public scrutiny and discussion.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Goldfarb argues persuasively for cameras in the courtroom, O.J. notwithstanding. He is aware of the problems but believes strongly that the more open a courtroom, the more open and free our society. The challenge, which he describes so well, is to balance the new demanding technology against our traditional dedication to democracy."

-Marvin Kalb,Director, Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, Harvard University

"A tour de force, a one-stop repositiory of the history, facts, and the law of the matter. I plan to plagiarize from it shamelessly. This is an important subject, and Goldfarb's book provides the first comprehensive, in-depth study of the issue."

-Fred Graham,Chief Anchor and Managing Editor, Court TV

"Going beyond the ovious controversies of recent years, Goldfarb surveys the role of television in courtrooms with cool but crisp detachement. He brings historical context, legal analysis, and rich experience to bear on the issue, concluding that courts are public institutions that do not belong exclusively to the judges and lawyers who run them. His persuasive argument for greater openness is bound to influence future debate on the topic."

-Sanford J. Ungar,Dean, School of Communication, American University

Col. Journalism Review
. . .Goldfarb's assessment brims with confidence that television court proceedings is good for the courts and the public, and with optimism that. . .even. . .the federal court system, will be open to television.
Library Journal
The author, an experienced Washington courtroom attorney, here attempts to reconcile the sometimes conflicting relationship between the First Amendment's protection of the news media's right to report court proceedings and the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of a speedy trial by an impartial jury. The author notes that television's scope and intensity can have such a profound impact in the jury selection process as to diminish the impartiality of potential jurors. Goldfarb calls this part of television's contaminating potential, which, he notes, is underscored by such disparities as evidentiary proceedings, in which the jury is prevented from watching or hearing parts of the proceedings that are widely seen by the public.

However, it was television's wide-angle lens that placed into its proper perspective the conflict between the Simpson jury verdict and the public's widespread perception of his guilt. Goldfarb concludes that while television has the potential to pervert justice, the extent to which it enhances justice is greater. A better treatment of this issue could hardly be found. . . -- Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Library

Library Journal
The author, an experienced Washington courtroom attorney, here attempts to reconcile the sometimes conflicting relationship between the First Amendment's protection of the news media's right to report court proceedings and the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of a speedy trial by an impartial jury. The author notes that television's scope and intensity can have such a profound impact in the jury selection process as to diminish the impartiality of potential jurors. Goldfarb calls this part of television's contaminating potential, which, he notes, is underscored by such disparities as evidentiary proceedings, in which the jury is prevented from watching or hearing parts of the proceedings that are widely seen by the public.

However, it was television's wide-angle lens that placed into its proper perspective the conflict between the Simpson jury verdict and the public's widespread perception of his guilt. Goldfarb concludes that while television has the potential to pervert justice, the extent to which it enhances justice is greater. A better treatment of this issue could hardly be found. . . -- Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Library

Booknews
An historical survey of the relationship between the justice system and the media in the US. The author looks at trials from Scopes to O.J. and argues that society gains more than it loses when trials are open to public scrutiny and discussion. Includes a lengthy examination of the end result of the current trend, Court TV. Appends a state by state summary of camera coverage rules by the Radio-Television News Directors Association. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Col. Journalism Review
. . .Goldfarb's assessment brims with confidence that television court proceedings is good for the courts and the public, and with optimism that. . .even. . .the federal court system, will be open to television.
Supplement Times Literary
Goldfarb argues vigorously that society gains much more than it loses when trials are open to public scrutiny and discussion. To support his verdict, he provides a lively history of widely publicized court cases from the eighth century through to modern times, and presents all available studies on the subject, gathering together for the first time all the existing scientific evidence on the impact of cameras on trial practices.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814731314
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2000
  • Series: Twentieth Century Fund Books Series
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Ronald L. Goldfarb is the founding partner of a Washington D.C. law firm. With law degrees from Syracuse and Yale Universities and extensive experience in courtrooms, he is also the author of nine other books, including most recently Perfect Villains, Imperfect Heroes: Robert F. Kennedy's War Against Organized Crime.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1 The Trial of the Century 1
2 The Free Press, the Fair and Public Trial: A Constitutional Conundrum 20
3 Cameras in the Courts: The Experiment 56
4 A Thing Observed, a Thing Changed: What Is the Impact of Television on Trials? 96
5 The Crucible: Court TV 124
6 Conclusion: TV or Not TV 154
Appendix A Camera Coverage in the States 189
Appendix B Summary of State Camera Coverage Rules by the Radio-Television News Directors Association 205
Notes 209
Index 231
About the Author 239
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