Monday, June 20, 2005

PUT CAMERAS IN THE COURTROOM

They're still discussing the media and Michael Jackson.

On the weekend Howard Kurtz hosted Reliable Sources on CNN and TVNewser picked up on a quote from Jane Velez-Mitchell calling for cameras in the courtroom. You can read the whole transcript and see for yourself what it says about all the coverage.

Personally, my stance is this: if the case is open to the public, if they allow people in there to sit there in the courtroom to watch the proceedings, then cameras should be allowed. Personally I feel that it is the right thing to do from a freedom-of-speech perspective, it encourages transparency and accountability from judges, plus it encourages people to report the trial fairly and accurately without spouting off their opinions all the time. When you put the trial on TV the public can bypass all these talking heads and see for themselves what is happening in the courtroom. The public ends up better informed and can come to a fair conclusion about Michael Jackson's guilt or innocence on their own. Now I know that E! did these re-enactments on TV with actors every night, but you don't get that all the time, either.

I agree with Jane Velez-Mitchell. What we did end up with was ranting and raving from biased observers all the time. It's not good for the justice system or for the credibility of the media. I know they banned the cameras in order to keep the trial from becoming a circus, but it became a circus anyway. I won't names names, you know who they all are (those people who show up on all these talk shows etc.).

I think there are times when having cameras or microphones in the room adds to the proceedings. I remember when they were making the arguments in court during the legal battle over the 2000 US election and I think that was a very helpful exercise having the microphones in the Supreme Court. It was a good move, it allowed people to get information about the arguments on the election without having to listen to all these politically-motivated commentators. So that's why I generally want to see cameras and microphones in the courtroom in these important cases and especially when a public figure is involved. We have cameras in Canada's Supreme Court and I think it's a great thing.

The reason I rant about this is because Court TV tried to overturn the ban on cameras in New York's courts last week, calling the ban unconstitutional, and well, they failed. Too bad. Besides I think they're right , I think it is unconstitutional. Like I say, put me down as in favor of cameras in the courtroom.

No comments: