Cameras in the Courtroom: Guidelines for State Criminal Trials

This Note analyzes the conflicting interests involved in televising state criminal trials and proposes a model set of guidelines for consideration by states that decide to permit electronic media in their courtrooms. The Note favors restrictions on broadcasters once in the courtroom and advocates that the defendant’s right to a fair trial receive more scrupulous protection than the broadcast media’s interest in attendance and the public’s “right to know.” Part I presents the constitutional principles with which any set of guidelines must comply. Part II analyzes the policy considerations that should guide the formulation of state guidelines, and concludes that sound public policy requires that the interests of the accused be placed above those of the broadcasters. Part III discusses the manner in which the states have resolved these difficult constitutional and policy questions, noting those resolutions that best accommodate the principles outlined in Parts I and II. Part III also discusses the desirability of promulgating a uniform set of guidelines for application by the states. States are then invited to adopt the model set of guidelines proposed in the Appendix.