Mass Communication Law Notes

Topics: Jury, Supreme Court of the United States, First Amendment to the United States Constitution Pages: 19 (4305 words) Published: January 22, 2013
Restrictive Orders Against The Press
Check Abuses – Public as Watchdog
Promote Accountability
Maintain Official Records
Promote Due Process:
Ensure that everyone knows the rules of the game

Free Press Vs. Fair Trial, Part I
(1st Amendment)(6th Amendment)

Prejudicial Crime Reporting – Is there such a thing?
The “CSI” effect
John Marshall, U.S. V. Burr (1807)
Irvin V. Dowd (1961)
Murphy V. Florida (1975)

Traditional Judicial Remedies
To balance 1st & 6th amend.

US v. Burr (1807)

Impartial juror was “one free from the dominant influence of knowledge acquired outside of the courtroom, free from strong and deep impressions that closes the mind” – Justice John Marshall

3 US Court decisions about pre trial publicity:

Irvin v. Dowd (1961)

Irvin connected to 6 different murders – wanted a relocation of the case due to bias in the original jurisdiction –

** Went all the way to the Supreme court – 430 potential jurors interviewed… 375 told the judge of their predispositions about Irvin’s guilt – murder conviction later overturned and set back – willing to hear the case again **

Murphy v. Florida (1975)

Involved in the theft of millions of dollars of jewels from the NY Museum of Natural History

Defendant claims that jury was biased by massive publicity about case

Only 20 out of 78 told judge of guilt predisposition – ratio not comparable to that in the Irvin case

Patton v Yount (1984)
“Fixed opinion”
Not if jury remembered the case but if their impression of the people in the case were strong enough one way or the other

Remedies for pre-trial publicity:

1. Traditional Judicial Remedies: Free Press v. Fair Trial

Voir Dire: (see/talk) Prosecution and defense gets a certain # of challenges of potential jurors to survey Challenge for cause: (unlimited) P or D has to tell the judge about undesirable juror and here’s why Has to be a legitimate reason Peremptory challenge: Each side is told how many challenges they get before the trial – challenge you can assert for any reason Change of venue: Move trial somewhere else (Tim McVeigh)

Change of venire men: Bring jurors in from a different location – not as familiar with the case at hand Continuance: (postponement) Push trial ahead of time to let people forget about case about hand – public attitudes calm down Admonition: Admonish… Judges strict order to jurors to disregard outside influences that could influence the verdict Sequestration: Secluding jury to limited contact with outside world until case is complete (not used that often, OJ trial)

2. Restrictive Orders to Continue Publicity

What they say to the public
Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart
Intense and pervasive publicity about case
No other alternative measure might mitigate the media pressure The order will in fact effectively prevent prejudicial publicity from reaching potential jurors

Trial Participants
Jury, lawyers, Plaintiff, Witnesses, Bailiffs

Sheppard v. Maxwell (1966) –
Convicted 1954
Dr. Sam Sheppard of Ohio was accused of bludgeoning his pregnant wife to death – denied and said it was an intruder – turned into a “media circus” – supreme court later blames judge for not controlling court room due to massive amounts of pre-trial publicity

Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart (1976) – gag orders/restrictions Murder of a family, lots of press coverage.
Court held unconstitutional prior restraints on media coverage during criminal trials. Courts debated whether or not the press may be prevented from releasing info seen to be "implicative of guilt" related to the defendant.

5:4 decision – 3 part test comes out of case: how do you decide whether a gag order on the press should be issued and whether it would be constitutional? *
Must be intense and pervasive publicity about the case
No other alternative measure might mitigate the media pressure The order must effectively prevent prejudicial...
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