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CHAPTER 10 MEDIA AND THE JUDICIARY Fair Trials OJ—the trial of the 20 th century? o Did OJ Simpson receive a fair trial? Did cameras in the courtroom affect the trial??? Journalists Rights v. the Accused In the administration of justice, conflict arises between courts and the press Legal and journalism professionals are trained to seek truth, BUT do so in different ways… Journalists and Courts--Separate Agendas Judges/lawyers avoid hearsay and illegally-obtained evidence—speed in arriving at the truth secondary to administration of justice Journalists: speed of major importance—hearsay and illegally-obtained evidence may be deemed newsworthy. Journalists and the Courts Present Unique Problems o Example: As journalists tell story of a crime/arrest prior to trial, news stories may influence community opinion, making it difficult (or impossible) to find impartial jurors But, judges who shape/censor news coverage of courtroom proceedings may be interfering with journalists' First Amendment rights… Journalists and the Courts: the Bottom Line Generally, Supreme Court says restrictions on reporting courtroom activities can occur only under special circumstances. Journalist’s have a qualified right of access to most courtrooms to report what they hear/ see… S. Court: press access insures fair trials. o Allows public to scrutinize court proceedings… Right to Know and the 6th Amendment Public has right to know about court actions o but 6th Amendment calls for accused to "enjoy right to a speedy public trial by an impartial jury" Defendants—who fear pre-trial publicity will contaminate juries—have sought to bar press from pretrial hearings and trials… Pre-trial Publicity Concerns 1) Efforts to influence judges by writing articles or editorials about pending cases, and/or 2) Possible influence among jurors o Courts insist juries be impartial, but juries do not have to be ignorant of community events —jurors must be willing to reach verdicts based on trial evidence
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To assure impartiality, potential jurors are questioned in court by lawyers for both sides to detect bias… voir dire Missouri court case: KRCG- Bustamante NEWS TRIBUNE Can a juvenile, ordered to stand trial in adult court, receive a fair trial with extensive press coverage? What Info Might Be Considered Prejudicial to Juries? 1) Publicizing a defendant's prior criminal record (generally not admissible as evidence unless a defendant chooses to testify) If jurors learn a defendant has a prior record jurors may be tempted to convict based on criminal record rather court evidence. .. 2) Broadcast/print/online news stories of confessions, esp. confessions made under questionable circumstances Confession is not admissible as evidence at trial unless it’s voluntary and accused has been properly advised of his/her rights 3) Publication/broadcast of lie detector test results—not admissible in court…but may of
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