Journalists Press For Opening MD Criminal Trials To TV


The Maryland court system is considering allowing cameras in criminal trials, says the Baltimore Sun. A panel of six judges held a hearing on the issue last night. A broadcast journalists association is urging an 18-month trial to see how cameras affect courtrooms. State law allows cameras in civil cases and appellate court hearings, but allows only reporters with notebooks into criminal trials. Journalists said they would like to see Maryland adopt a policy used in 19 other states, including Virginia, that allows trial judges to decide whether to allow cameras in their courtrooms. Fifteen other states leave the decision to trial judges but make mandatory exceptions under certain circumstances, such as cases involving sex crimes.

Defense lawyers and crime victims are skeptical.”The media wants to control what the public sees. When they get back to the editing room, they can very much control what comes out. You can unfairly influence what people think by highlighting only certain parts of a trial,” said Kelly Casper, who spoke on behalf of the Office of the Public Defender. Pauline Mandel of the Maryland Crime Victims Resource Center said the prospect of testimony being aired on TV would frighten witnesses in gang, sex-crime and child-victim cases and compromise some witnesses’ safety.


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