Is Judy still keeping audiences entertained by giving the court system a new attitude Will court systems ever get back its dignity Not as long as the cameras still role. Cameras in the courtroom have been very beneficial in certain cases, but it has caused a lot of harm. The human race has taken the solemnest of these meetings, and has changed it to a form of entertainment only clowns would be involved with. The public is so involved with this newfound form of fun, that they dont realize the actual damage that it is causing in the judicial system as well as human life. I feel that even though cameras are a very innovative way to educate people about unknown situations, they need not be in courtrooms involved with high profile cases.
The biggest trial of the century has been said to have been the O.J. Simpson trial. People flocked to their favorite public places to be with friends so they could watch the trial together. Some even gave up sleep so to get as much information about the case as possible. The Simpson trial seemed to
be a lot more popular for entertainment than watching movies or even the watching the Super Bowl. In Time magazine, journalist Jill Smolowe, quoted Don Hewitt, executive producer of 60 Minutes, about the atrocity of making trials a spectator sport. Hewitt said, “I dont like the idea that a murder
trial has been turned into an entertainment special. There are certain moments in American life that have certain dignity” (38). The judicial system is a very complex system and deserves the respect and dignity that is required. It needs to be taken seriously. The public has no right to make it into a game. This is a serious process of bringing criminals to justice.
Some people say that by watching the court system in action, what once was very unknown and unfamiliar, has now become familiar and useful in helping people become more knowledgeable of what happens inside courtrooms. Most people have not been in a courtroom and only have the perspective that T.V. gives to them. Now they are able to see what really goes on and now can better understand and relate.
Sure having court proceedings on T.V. can help us really understand and become educated about them. But its not needed. A big issue these days is the issue that the Supreme Court wont allow cameras into their courtroom. Reasons behind this are that they feel that issues discussed within are too important and cant be influenced by outsiders. Regular courtrooms should be the same. The public has no right to actually know what goes on in the courtroom. Courtrooms contain too much sensitive information the public should not hear. Only by the public relying on the news or newspapers, can these sensitive issues be kept safe.
Another major problem with having cameras within the courtroom is that its hard for an accused person to receive a fair trial. Because of cameras, the public becomes too informed and therefore form opinions or verdicts before information is brought forth. In her article “The Circus Comes to Town,” Elaine Nadeau quoted Edward Greenspan, a criminal lawyer and university lecturer. He said, “trial by media- threatens the very basis upon which our judicial system operates, because it brings into the courtroom the rumors and passions of the marketplace. These must inevitably imperil the constitutional right of every accused to a fair trial” (13). I can totally understand the view of
Greenspan. Of all the trials that I have heard of, most have been on T.V. Ive find that the majority of the time I take the side the media portrays and choose the verdict without giving the accused a chance. To this day, even after their trials are finished, I still think that Simpson or even Clinton is guilty. This stand, Ive found, is based off the ideas that others more involved than I have give to me.
Some people claim that its okay to have an opinion of a criminal; its only human to pass judgment on what is heard and then make a strong ethics decision. By doing this, one is able to make a standard in their life about what is right and what is wrong. My question about this is what happens when these people are called to jury duty If everyone knows about a certain trial and the extent of the charges on the accused, when asked to go to jury duty, they are unable to participate because they have set their own view. And if everyone has their own view, who sits in the jury box Like the Simpson trial, it was very difficult to find people without a strong view to sit in the box, therefore a
lot of time was spent finding the jurors and thus wasting a lot of time on the trial. If the trial was kept very low key, jurors wouldve been able to go into the room, sit and listen, and based on facts presented, make a fair verdict. Only without the press involved with taping a trial and providing too much information to the public, can one accused receive a fair trial.
Cameras have also had adverse effects upon the attitude of the people within the courtroom. In The Economist, a writer decided to make a fictional story describing the effects cameras have in the courtroom the story takes place within a courtroom with a prosecutor and a defender, who take the
roles of prosecuting cameras and defending them. In the story, the prosecution states the adverse affect of cameras by saying: “Lawyers and judges may be keen to play to the camera; witnesses may be reluctant to testify, or may exaggerate for effect: and jurors may find it impossible to remain oblivious to the media circus which often surrounds televised trials” (23). As seen with many different afternoon court television specials like Judge Judy or Judge Wapner, it is evident that this is true. By watching the attitudes that are given off, one may be able to see that these courtrooms are definitely a circus and totally disgraces the true purpose of the court system. Ive also seen that when the witness are put up on the stand, that they do struggle with giving all the facts straight without being held responsible for the mistakes that do happen because they are nervous.
Within the same article, the defense gave this statement: “Most academic studies of televised trials have found that the majority of participants, although aware of the cameras, do not feel that their behavior or the trial itself were adversely affected” (23). Some say that what happens in a courtroom
is not affected because of cameras. Its because of different personalities involved that a trial runs the direction that it does. I dont know about you, but Ive seen a lot of people that are shy of just having Polaroid cameras in their presence. Imagine if T.V. cameras were placed in front of these people. I could imagine one who has misdirected thoughts and who states unclear words. There still is that marginal group who isnt affected, but t would probably be easier to get rid of the problem instead of searching for those people.
The New York Committee to Review Audio-Visual Coverage of Court Proceeding performed a survey with 351 judges about different issues involving television coverage of court proceeding.
(online) The results of this survey are as follows:
-52% of surveyed judges disagreed with the statement “Television
coverage has enhanced public understanding of New Yorks judicial
-59% of surveyed judges disagreed with the statement???Television
coverage has had a positive effect on New Yorks criminal justice
system.” Only 25% of judges think television coverage has had a
positive effect on New Yorks criminal justice system.
-80% of judges agreed that television coverage is more likely to serve
as a source of entertainment than education for the viewing public.
-80% of judges are concerned about the commercial exploitation of
judicial proceedings by the television industry.
-87% of judges agreed that television coverage transforms sensational
criminal trials into mass-marketed commercial products.
I understand that these surveys were done in New York, but most surveys are done in large cities because they provide a lot of different personalities and they do give a fairly accurate view of what the public really thinks. From this survey you can see that most judges do not favor cameras in the courtroom, and I agree with them totally. I feel that there are no advantages and that if there werent any camera within the courtroom, the judicial system would be a lot better.
So with cameras having such a negative affect on the court system, they should be completely taken out of high profile trials. They really do more damage than good and really should be dealt with. This way, those involved with this system and we as supporters of the Constitution can be proud of our judicial system and its integrity.
Anonymous. “Television on Trial.” The Economist 349.8099 (19 Dec.1998): 23.
Nadeau, Elaine. “The Circus Come to Town.” Canada and the World Backgrounder 61.3 (Dec 1995): 13.
Smolowe, Jill. “TV Cameras on Trial: the Unseemly Simpson Spectacle
Provokes a Backlash Against Televised Proceedings.” Time Magazine
146.24 (24 July 1995): 38.
Anonymous. “Judges and New Yorkers Agree: Cameras Get in the Way of a Fair Trial,” Online. World Wide Web.
17 Feb. 1999.
For more about cameras in courtrooms: http://pw2.netcom.com/~jlortega/newpage112.htm