Should the media be permitted to cover all criminal trials? Often times, during major trials, the public yearns for knowledge of exactly what happened. The media, however, while providing this service, can "taint" their presentation with their own biases, and potentially fill the public mind with analyses and speculations which have little to no concrete basis, and disrupt the actual trial proceedings. A perfect example of this occurred in 1966, Sheppard vs. Maxwell, when Dr. Samuel H. Sheppard was accused of murdering of his wife. The media turned the courtroom, according to the Supreme Court ruling in the case, into a "circus." There were cameras scattered across the entire room, and witnesses were harrassed by reporters while testifying. Sheppard's conviction was reversed by the Court due to the manner in which the trial was handled. Another important issue to consider is that of pretrial publicity. When a sensational crime occurs, the media in that area tend to publicize it heavily. It is inevitable that mostly everyone in that area (or in some extreme cases, in the nation) reads about it frmo the newspaper. Oftentimes, the newspaper can describe evidence and facts not admissible in trial. This makes it difficult to find jurors who have not formed a biases, or who has not been exposed to inadmissible evidence. Therefore, it is held that the Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial conflicts with the First Amendment right to Freedom of the Press and the Sixth Amendment right to a public trial. Some hold that the press are the representatives of the public; therefore, because trials are guaranteed to be public, the press must have access to safeguard our rights and liberties. Others respond that the press cares little for our rights, desiring only to expand the circulation of their publications or the audience of their shows.
Do you feel that the press should be allowed, at least in certain courtroom areas, in all trials?
Do you feel that a temporary ban should be placed on the publication of details pertaining to a criminal investigation until a jury in the matter has been selected?
Do you believe that the press covers criminal trials, in greater part, to protect our rights or to increase its profits?
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