Thursday, August 05, 2010
Why Cameras in Courtrooms Are a Terrible Idea
There are pictures of Al Capone inside a courtroom a 2600 S. California Avenue. There was movie and still pictures taken during the sensational Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb murder trial also in that era. It was sometime later when cameras were eventually outlawed.
Transparency dictates open government and court proceedings be public except in rare cases and to protect juveniles. The public cannot be excluded from courtrooms unless they are witnesses that have not yet testified in the case before the court. That important prohibition is to prevent witnesses from influencing each other during trials or hearings.
The real harm with bringing cameras into courtrooms is when justice is reduced to cheap entertainment. The most horrific examples of televised trials gone wrong was the O.J Simpson murder trial and then later in the murder trial of Scott Peterson.
The Romans showcased crime and punishment in their coliseum. Blood thirsty crowds over-filled this venue for the shockingly ghoulish public slaughter of people whose crime was that of being Christian.
Adolph Hitler and his propaganda minister Josef Goebbels made sure that the People’s Court of The Third Reich was shown on newsreels in every movie house in Germany.
The Hübener lad was just one of 5,000 German men and women known to have been murdered under the color of law for resting National Socialism.
We must not let American courts degenerate into a most garish form of entertainment for the idle. We simply can't allow courts to be used for propaganda or to terrorize the population.
On the other hand the courts are public and should always remain open for the public to observe.
If there is a TV show I loathe more than any other in the history of television it’d the Judge Judy Show. Yes, her cases are of little consequence but none the less the show reduces our court to the status of a third rate circus.
As for the unbridled horror of the Helmuth Hübener story, a movie is being filmed in Germany right now with, Haley Joel Osment playing the lead character.