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ERIC Number: ED380838
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1994
Pages: 21
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
News Media in the Courtroom: Free Press or Fair Trial.
Pearlstein, Allan
The news media's interaction with the criminal justice system and the public--specifically, whether or not the news media's presence inside and outside the courtroom affects a defendant's right to a fair trial--is examined. In 1965, Dr. Sam Sheppard was convicted for the murder of his pregnant wife in their Cleveland suburban home. Since this case received an enormous amount of pretrial publicity, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Dr. Sheppard's Sixth Amendment rights were violated and overturned the trial court's decision. Then, in the 1970s and 1980s, the Supreme Court began focusing more on the media's First Amendment rights. In Richmond Newspapers vs. Virginia, the Supreme Court ruled that for a courtroom to be closed, the trial judge must provide substantial proof showing that the defendant's right to a fair trial would be compromised by the media's presence. The Supreme Court, however, never set a standard that trial judges must follow: trial judges were left to their own best judgment. Experiments conducted by Roberts and Doob (1990), Moral and Cutler (1991) and Riedel (1993), show that pretrial publicity "can" affect a potential juror's or judge's decision. However, Davis' (1986) and part of Riedel's (1993) experiment revealed that potential jurors are able to set aside pretrial publicity and render a verdict on the evidence presented. This dichotomy shows that further research needs to be done, and that research should involve "actual trial participants" instead of "simulated trial participants." (Contains 17 references.) (Author/TB)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A