Cameras in the Courtroom Essay

1986 Words Sep 14th, 2013 8 Pages
Cameras in the Courtroom

By: Justin Taylor

MCJ 6257-08C-2, Criminal Courts and Professional Ethics


Cameras in the Courtroom

In the electronic world that we live in, every aspect of life can be broadcast across the country in seconds. This aspect is even more realistic when cameras are front and center in American courtrooms. Each morning and afternoon we turn on the television, reality television takes over and civil lawsuits or divorces are being broadcast on shows such as the Judge Judy Show, Judge Brown Show, Judge Greg Mathis Show or Divorce Court. Many people, young and old, are exposed to these reality shows believing what they see is the “real” criminal justice system at
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Some of the arguments that have made are cameras can sway jury members and judges in voting a certain way, the rights of the defendant privacy and witnesses who testify, cameras disrupts court proceedings and cameras in the courtroom violates the Canons of Judicial Ethics.

In 1945, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Canons of Judicial Ethics which state “Proceedings in court should be conducted with fitting dignity and decorum. The taking of photographs in the courtroom during session, and the broadcasting or televising of court proceedings will degrade the court and create a misconception with respect thereto in the mind of the public, and should be permitted” (Westlaw). With the ethics in place the opponents of camera in the courtroom believe that the cameras would distract witnesses and violate the judicial ethics set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court. Circuit Judge Charles Hayden stated that in part the taking of pictures in the courtroom distracts from the serious business of the trial and “will lend itself to the nature of public entertainment rather than vital judicial inquiry” (Geis & Talley, 1957). Professor Gordon Brewer points out that no matter how the proponents of cameras in the courtroom argue that the cameras are not a distraction; the mere presents of cameras in the courtroom would bound to be a distraction (Geis & Talley, 1957).

The second argument against cameras in the courtroom is that the

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