Have cameras in the courtroom
undermined the U.S. justice system?
January 20, 1998
in this forum:
Would only allowing trials to be broadcast after the verdict solve the problems? Do lawyers and judges dress and act differently when they're infront of a camera? How do legal shows like "The People's Court" affect America's view of its justice system? How does Court TV decide what cases to cover, and how do cameras in the courts affect the careers of lawyers and judges? Additional comments.
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February 5, 1997
The civil trial verdict goes against OJ Simpson.
September 3, 1997:
A look at criminal law in France.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of law.
Lauren Alpine of Madison, WI asks:
There are cameras in the Congress, why shouldn't there be cameras in the Supreme Court? It is unfair that there is a whole "class" of people who are privy to what happens in the Supreme Court (lawyers who can afford expensive Lexis services) but the general public has to rely on reporters and "experts." Isn't this damaging to democracy? Especially since some of the most important issues are settled in the courts (Roe v. Wade, Assisted suicide, affirmative action) and not in the Legislative Branch.
Law Professor Steven Lubet responds:
I agree completely. There is no good argument for keeping camerasout of the U.S. Supreme court. Surely the court can enforce decorum, andthere are no witnesses or jurors to worry about. No lawyer would be foolishenough to play to the camera at the cost of alienating the Justices (andanyone who did would certainly deserve to lose!).
So why doesn't the Court allow cameras? You'd just have to say thatconservative institutions are slow to change.
Tim Sullivan, of Court TV responds:I agree absolutely. There is no logical reason to ban cameras from theSupreme Court. There are good reasons to keep cameras out of trial courtssometimes -- in the reare instance when they really could endanger a fairtrial, or expose minors to psychological damage, etc. -- but none of thosearguments apply in an appellate court.
The bottom line is, the ban in the Supreme Court cannot be defendedlogically. It's simply an example of the Court's anachronistic vision ofitself as a place separate from society.