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Federal Courts To Begin First Digital Video Pilot 80

Posted by samzenpus
from the trial-tube dept.
coondoggie writes "Federal district courts have been prohibited from allowing any sort of electronic dissemination of trials since 1946, but that is about to change. Fourteen federal trial courts and 100 judges have been selected to take part in the federal Judiciary's three-year digital video pilot, which will begin July 18 and will go a long way towards determining the effect of cameras in courtrooms."
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Federal Courts To Begin First Digital Video Pilot

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  • by torgis (840592) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @02:54PM (#36378602) Journal
    I'm not a fan of becoming a surveillance society, but cameras in certain instances definitely make sense. I want cameras in the courtroom, police waiting rooms, and mounted on every police car during traffic stops. If my freedom may some day depend on my word against that of a police officer, I'd prefer to have hard video evidence just in case. Just look at all of the cases where you see cops acting with impunity because they didn't know they were being filmed, and then watch their reactions once they know someone busted them.
  • by Aladrin (926209) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @02:59PM (#36378678)

    "the effect of cameras in courtrooms" ... That's something that seems pretty simple, until you start think about it.

    Look at the OJ trial. If that hadn't been covered by the media, would it have been such a circus? Would the same result have happened? We don't know, but it's quite possible things would be quite different. For one thing, those lawyers suddenly knew their careers could be made or broken on that case, and that's going to change their strategy. The whole glove-trying thing was supposed to be a huge visual shocker (and it was!) and turned out horribly wrong for the prosecutor. If there had been no cameras, would he have still done it?

    The jurors also knew their every in-court action would be up for public scrutiny, not the least of which was the final verdict. It's nearly impossible to determine how that affected each of them.

    If you haven't guessed already, I don't think trials should be publicized until they are over. The media shouldn't get to cover the trial while in progress. It's not entertainment, it's justice. And it's being warped.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @03:07PM (#36378790)

    People who really care are happy with transcripts. Cameras turn lawyers and judges into showboaters and definitely influences the process. A judge who previously would have happily accepted that he was in the wrong and sided with an attorney on minor issues now will worry about his image (especially in the era of electable judges), puff out his chest, and push back.

    And, what of the cases of the "indefensible"; pedophiles, terrorists, rapists, etal.? How much more likely is a judge willing to reject an argument in their favor for fear of looking like he's an appeaser?

    Lack of cameras is a natural barrier for the carnival barkers and curiosity seekers looking for nothing more than another reality TV outlet.

  • by causality (777677) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @03:09PM (#36378822)

    If you haven't guessed already, I don't think trials should be publicized until they are over. The media shouldn't get to cover the trial while in progress. It's not entertainment, it's justice.

    No kidding. I feel that way every time there's some long drawn-out event that gets minute-by-minute play-by-play coverage for weeks.

    I never liked the idea of hearing about each miniscule development each day for days or weeks. I'd much rather they wait until a trial or election or what-have-you is over, and then tell me what the result was, once. Not dozens of times. Few events warrant that kind of attention, and among those which do, the whole "media circus" phenomenon makes a mockery of them.

  • by torgis (840592) on Wednesday June 08, 2011 @03:12PM (#36378856) Journal
    Let me clarify a little bit too - I don't mean all this crap should become a TV media circus. But it should be filmed for posterity's sake and archived, available with a Freedom of Information request.

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