How Do You Feel About Cameras in the Courtroom?
Did you know 47 states allow television cameras in trial or appellate courtrooms? Some allow them in both. How do you feel about this?
Last I checked, Indiana, Mississippi, South Dakota, and the District of Columbia are the only states that do not allow cameras in the courtroom. However, there is no constitutional rule preventing cameras in the courtroom.
I have mixed feelings. I can say my bottom line leans toward transparency and access for the public to receive accurate information with their own eyes and ears. An opinion of mine is, of course, with the caveat of some necessary protections. Protections like not publicizing graphic photographs or showing the face of a victim during a trial testimony. The identity and well-being of all minors should also be protected.
There are ways to have both transparency and protections. Perhaps limiting courtroom cameras to sound during certain times, like victim testimony, would work. The last thing I want to see is anyone re-victimized. Of course, always protect our jurors. Jurors should never be made public until and unless they decide to speak or share their thoughts and experiences once the trial process has been completed.
This opportunity for the public to go inside the courtroom to intimately observe trials is not only beneficial for a better understanding of our judicial system, but it also allows individuals to hear facts presented directly for themselves. This ensures no one’s angle can influence your judgment in what you believe to be the truth.
I do not feel cameras in the courtroom could hinder a defendant. I believe the lack of cameras then allows sensationalism by the press to sway the public one way or the other in any criminal or civil matter if we have no way to see and hear for ourselves. Some people argue very strongly that this is our first amendment right to know what goes on in a courtroom. I believe this to be true. Nevertheless, certain cautions and protections for victims, witnesses, sensitive materials, and families, of course, should be left to the discrepancy of the presiding judge.
Cameras and broadcasting of the courtrooms has been a subject debated for decades. We began seeing a larger difference in the late 1980s and early 1990s. During those times, there were judicial committees formed seeking studies on criminal and civil matters of the effects of cameras and broadcasting of trials. This still is a highly debated subject when it comes to courtroom media access. We are currently underway with this very subject being contested in the case of State of Idaho vs. Brian Kohberger. Yet, we all just had full and complete access to the Vallow/Daybell trial, the Heard/Depp trial, and the Murdoch trial. But for some reason cameras in the courtroom has become an enormous argument in Idaho for this upcoming murder case.
Many criminal and civil cases intrigue the public. One of those cases referred to often when discussing cameras in the courtroom dates back to the 1930s when Charles Lindbergh Jr., the infant son of Charles Lindberg, went missing from their home in New Jersey. The baby was held for ransom and subsequently tragically died. The court case was of enormous public interest.
This has continued for years. During some of the most famous cases of my time I found myself glued to Court TV, like for the Menendez trial or those of O.J. Simpson, Rodney King, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy and Casey Anthony. I am grateful to have been able to come to my own conclusions regardless of what the jury decided. I was grateful to understand evidence and why some is kept in and some out. To see with my own eyes the difference that makes one way or the other had the jury known or vice versa was important to me. I respect the justice system and think everyone should have the opportunity to understand and learn more about it.
Wouldn’t it be great to have access to some historical trials? The Lizzie Borden and Black Sox trials would have been so intriguing. There are so many.
There are many great arguments both ways on this subject and I don’t deny that. For me, the bottom line is transparency. Facts. Truth. A close look our judicial system. These are people chosen and entrusted to these positions to ethically ensure everyone will be treated with dignity, rights are preserved and there’s unprejudiced treatment for all involved.
In the end, all any of us should ever want is truth and accountability to be placed upon the correct party — even if that may not fit our narrative. However, if we can’t see and hear for ourselves, isn’t there a chance we will question and have opinions that may not be of significance whatsoever and essentially be a lie in our minds?