How Media in the Courtroom Affects the Verdict

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What is the common element of the trials for O.J. Simpson, Sam Sheppard, and the Menendez brothers? All these cases were surrounded by media frenzy. The public is barraged with all types of information once it is released. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? With so many media influences from print to cameras can one truly assume an unbiased position? Many factors can play a role in the outcome of a trial. A person’s fame, fortune, or lack of is sometimes an element. In 2007 Collins said: The debate over whether or not to televise courtroom proceedings has broader implications than simply the safety of witnesses and the right of the media to cover criminal trials of interest to the public. Instead, the issue centers squarely on the capacity of a televised courtroom to provide an environment in which the truth can emerge while protecting the due-process rights of the accused. While media in the courtroom can affect the verdict, there is also an affect on the jurors, attorneys, judges, victims, and witnesses.

Equally important is the affect of media in the courtroom on the judges. Some believe that the cameras will not inhibit the judges’ ability while others believe differently. In 1994 Lepofsky stated: There is a sound basis for being concerned about the potential impact of cameras in the courtroom on judges. At the very least, cameras in the courtroom will place significant added burden on the judge. The judge will have to police the cameras, to ensure compliance with all rules, and try to prevent any prejudicial camera-induced impact. (p.352) It is reasonable to assume that the cameras will have a small affect on some of the judges’ demeanor since the judge has to keep watch of all that is going on in the courtroom. Media influence can sometimes be intimidating to the average person. Judges want to be viewed as biased in all cases. They have to be aware at all times of the image they portray. On occasion politics do play a part in decisions that...
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