Saturday, April 30, 2005

Cameras in the Courtroom

By Melissa A. Popp

I'm not a fan of cameras in the courtroom. I just don't think cameras, any type, should be allowed to document legal affairs such as that. In my mind, with the hype of reality television and seeing how people go out of their way to be on such shows, it's only a matter of time before people begin to think they can put on a show in a courtroom during a trial. This is unacceptable and demeans the judicial process.

In most cases, only high profile trials are shown on television, usually on CourtTV, but clips are often showed on every news network at some point during the duration and deliberation. Scott Peterson's trial garnered enough attention, that while cameras weren't allowed in the courtroom, they were allowed outside when the guilty verdict was read so that most of America could witness both the shouts of happiness and tears of sadness at the decision.

Is this what America has come to?

Yes, Scott Peterson was convicted of murdering Laci Peterson, his wife, and his unborn child, Connor, but did that really justify having to watch people celebrating in the streets?


Such matters as trials are between the plaintiff, defendant and the jury or judge. These are not matter for the public to speculate, form opinions on or even watch in delight as another person dies in what already is a tragedy to begin with, in my opinion. Whether or not Scott Peterson is guilty or going to death is irrelevant, it's the fact that because of television, people were able to witness the glee on stranger's faces as he was told he would die. This is just plain sick and disgusting, and America is much better than such prejudice and celebration in the time of mourning.

Cameras in the courtroom should be outlawed. In each specific case, a judge can decide whether or not to let media cover such trials from the courtroom itself. It's individual discretion, and in some cases, it has caused much controversy when cameras aren't allowed into such cases.

The Michael Jackson trial, which is currently in place, is one such case where the public outcry is so loud for cameras in the courtroom the judge ruled they would not be allowed. This is to protect both the sensitive nature of the trial, Michael Jackson's privacy and to keep the courtroom from becoming a circus, something Jackson himself attracts and encourages.

It's to the point that CourtTV themselves are taping their own daily "recaps" of the trial with actors and actresses hired on the spot to act as witnesses, Jackson and others involved during the day's proceedings. Such recaps have even garnered the attention of such shows as Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood who interview those playing in this make believe world for CourtTV on a daily basis.

When Debbie Rowe, Jackson's ex-wife and mother of his children, took the stand, these entertainment shows followed her around for the day, interviewing her and taping her in make-up, because a child molestation trial is entertainment in this day and age.

Unfortunately, this is the society we live in today, where the camera has become culprit of turning courtrooms into shows for the whole world to see. I, for one, refuse to sit down and watch such shows or CourtTV, because it's just not worth investing emotion and energy into someone else's plight that's being nationally and internationally broadcast for everyone to weigh in on when it doesn't even matter to them at the end of their day.

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