Criminal Trials

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Criminal Trials: Should they be Televised or not?
Faith R. Warner
Rasmussen College

This research is being submitted on December 7, 2010, for Rose Pogatshnik’s CCJ 1000 course at Rasmussen College by Faith R. Warner.

Cochran, B. President, & radio-television news directors association & f. (n.d).      (2005, November 9). Cameras in the courtroom. pp 1-5. Retrieved October 19, 2010,      from Points of view reference center database.

“Ms. Bergman is President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (“NACDL”)”. She is representing the Committee in this article. In criminal cases, Ms. Bergman believes the price of televised court actions “must be weighed against the accused constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial” (Bergman, 2005). In some cases, televised trials may help restore the reputation of a criminal defendant when charges are dismissed or they receive a not guilty verdict. On the other hand, “One primary concern regarding cameras in the courtroom is that they will affect the participants’ behavior in ways that would undermine the fair administration of justice” (Bergman, 2005). In addition, “If jurors are filmed and their verdict publicized, concern about how their verdict will be accepted by the mass television audience may invade the deliberations process” (Bergman, 2005). Once more, “Televised proceedings can adversely affect witness behavior in many ways” (Bergman, 2005). Witnesses may not want to testify if they now their testimony will be publicized.

I agree with Ms. Bergman in the fact that televised court proceedings must be viewed carefully. However, I do not agree that a televised criminal case would help restore a defendant if acquitted. The public has already formed their opinions of a defendant before the trial ever started. I do agree that televising criminal trials will put an effect on how people act or react in the courtroom. I also agree that televising a criminal trial would very much make a witness reluctant to testify. This testimony supports my thesis that there will be relentless issues about cameras in the courtroom. Cochran, B. President, & radio-television news directors association & f. (n.d).      (2005, November 9). Cameras in the courtroom. pp 1-5. Retrieved October 19, 2010,      from Points of view reference center database.

Barbra Cochran is the President of the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA). She addresses proposed legislation to allow media coverage of federal court proceedings (Cochoran, 2005). “Since the O.J. Simpson murder trial, many people have been quick to point the finger at the camera as the cause of ‘sensationalism’ and public distaste for our legal process” (Cochoran, 2005). Cochoran goes on about televising court trials does not affect the ability of performance in the courtroom. “Jurors, prosecutors, lawyers, witnesses and judges on both state and federal levels have overwhelmingly reported for the past decade or so that the unobtrusive cameras has not had an adverse impact on trials or appellate proceedings” (Cochoran, 2005). Inclusive studies have shown television coverage has been educational to show the public how the justice system works. “Public scrutiny will help reform our legal system, dispel myth and rumors that spread as a result of ignorance, and strengthen the ties between citizens and their government” (Cochoran, 2005).

This article supports my thesis because it talks about both sides of cameras in the courtrooms. I do believe the public needs to become more involved in criminal proceedings, however, by watching it on TV they will only get bits and pieces, unless they are a couch potato. I also agree that televised court trials do not affect performance in court, if the lawyers and judge can keep a grip on things.

Economist (1998-1999, December/January). Cameras in court. In Television on trial. 349. (8099), p23-25. Retrieved November 2, 2010, from MasterFILE...
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