There are two trials under way in Redwood City, Ca., here over the killings of Laci Peterson and her unborn son, observes the New York Times. One is the quiet proceeding inside the town courthouse run by Judge Alfred A. Delucchi. The other trial takes place in the hallways and on the esplanade in front of the courthouse, where a spin zone relentlessly churns before television cameras, which are barred from the courtroom itself. This one is played out breathlessly almost every day on Court TV and Fox News, on “Today” and “Larry King Live.”
The outcome of the media trial was decided long ago, though the courtroom proceeding is not half finished. “They’re doing the O. J., the rush to justice,” Michael Cardoza said. Earlier that day, Cardoza, a former prosecutor, criticized San Mateo County prosecutors on “Today” and on “Larry King Live.” “I’ve tried 40 homicide cases,” he said. “I know it’s not over until the jurors come back, but this is all but lost.” Even without cameras, there is instant reporting from the courtroom. Using wireless modems, some reporters are filing their articles from behind the trial’s closed doors, or furiously exchanging e-mail messages with colleagues over their BlackBerry wireless devices. Court TV reporters send real-time accounts of the proceedings direct to their on-air anchor. That shift, while favoring speed, leaves little room for error or context.