ERIC Number: ED227504
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Feb
Reference Count: 0
Voluntary Becomes Mandatory?
Voluntary bench-bar press guidelines have evolved over the past 15 years as a way of resolving the conflict between the right of the accused to a fair trial and the right of the press to cover such a trial. In 1980, however, a Washington state judge required reporters to sign an affidavit stating that they would follow the state's guidelines. Arguing prior restraint, one paper sued, but lost in the state courts. The Supreme Court refused to review the case. Other journalists reacted angrily to the outcome, seeing the end of the voluntary code system. Originally proposed in response to conviction reversals that stemmed from pretrial publicity, the codes have had a long history marked by controversy; they are often effective, but sometimes ignored by the press, particularly in sensational cases. The Washington state case and other similar cases make the future of such voluntary rules even more doubtful. Still, if the press is to defend its access to the courts, it must not turn its back on the legal sector, but instead should make the effort to communicate its fears and concerns. (JL)
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Freedom of Information Center, Columbia, MO.
Note: Legibility may be impaired by small, light print of the original