May 18, 2024

Does The Presence of the Media Serve The Purposes of Justice?

An interesting thing happened on the way to former President Trump’s first criminal trial. We get to find out that New York doesn’t allow audio or video recording in their courtrooms, and other oddities from a bygone time:

Unlike nearly every other state, New York does not allow cameras in the courtroom and also prohibits audio recordings of witness testimony and other proceedings…. In an era when even the U.S. Supreme Court streams live audio of oral arguments, New York is way behind the times; the official court rules for coverage of People v. Trump allows for about 60 journalists (including two sketch artists) to witness the proceedings with ‘no video, no photographs, no audio recording.’… In New Yor​​k — again, in a departure from the federal system and every other state — official rules state that transcripts of what gets said in court must be purchased from the court stenographers who have the job of recording, on a specialized keyboard, every word, action, and ruling in criminal cases.

Free the Trump Trial Transcripts – courtesy Ann Althouse

In order to get copies of what happened in the courtroom, you have to purchase copies of the notes, which could cost close to $5.00 a page, which goes to state-paid stenographers in the courtroom!

The question that I have is whether this is actually better than audio/visual television that’s live in terms of justice. After having watched and read the minutes of Congressional hearings, I’ve wondered if these events have become more about the show than anything of substance. Is the reason that Congressional committees are just a show and the real work happens in the cloakrooms, I’m wondering if this is all because we have television cameras that people want to showboat to rather than actually conduct business.

Does this happen also in courtrooms? Could we find that people want to see drama and then different attorneys play to that desire? Is it possible that a man that’s declared innocent would be considered guilty by people that listened to the trial and came to a different conclusion– therefore the man is never perceived as innocent?

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