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TV Coverage of Trials

The issue of television coverage of criminal and civil trials, in the wake of Estes v. Texas (381 U.S. 532, 1965) and Chandler v. Florida (449 U.S. 560, 1981) continues to polarize legal scholars and professionals. In response to grossly overzealous media coverage of the 1935 Lindbergh kidnapping trial of Bruno Hauptmann (State v. Hauptmann, 115 N.L.J. 412, 1935), the American Bar Association adopted "Canon 35" as part of its Canons of Judicial Ethics in 1937 which, although advisory only, prohibited either (radio) broadcasting or photography within the courtroom. Specifically, Canon 35 stated:

Proceedings in court should be conducted with fitting dignity and decorum. The taking of photographs in the courtroom, during sessions of the court or recesses between sessions, and the broadcasting of court proceedings are calculated to detract from the essential dignity of the proceedings, degrade the court and create misconceptions with respect thereto in the mind of the public and should not be permitted (Overbeck and Pullen, 1985).

Subsequent to the development of television, Canon 35 was amended in 1952 to include that medium, and in the early 1970s, when the old Canons were replaced with the ABA Code of Judicial Conduct, a new Rule, 3A(7), permitted limited television coverage of certain trials "with the consent of all parties, and only then for use in educational institutions after all direct appeals were exhausted (which could be years later)" (Neiman, 1981; Overbeck and Pullen, 1985). By the 1960s, every state except Texas and Colorado had adopted regulations forbidding radio or television broadcasts of court proceedings, and had also been barred in federal courts since 1946, following the implementation of Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (Overbeck and Pullen, 1985).

The 1964 Supreme Court decision in Estes followed the trial and conviction of Billy Sol Estes, a politically-connected grain dealer ...

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TV Coverage of Trials. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:06, March 26, 2019, from