News organizations are asking a judge in Santa Barbara County, Ca., to reconsider his ruling banning cameras from the courtroom during Michael Jackson’s arraignment tomorrow on child molestation charges. The Los Angeles Times says media attorneys argue that live coverage is “vital” to show the public what happens in the courtroom.
Boutrous argued that cameras help assure the public that standards of fairness are being observed by the criminal justice system. Cameras are even more important in high-profile cases that provoke intense scrutiny, he said. Among 19 reasons Judge Rodney Melville had cited in closing the hearing to cameras were keeping witnesses from being influenced by seeing earlier testimony and preserving the dignity of the court. He also cited the need to protect the alleged minor victim and other minors who might testify.
“Thousands of citizens have indicated their intent to attend the arraignment hearing in support of Mr. Jackson,” Boutrous said, adding that allowing television coverage would relieve the pressure to get into the courtroom, thereby promoting orderly conduct and easing security concerns.
Jackson will be arraigned on seven felony charges of child molestation and two felony charges of using an intoxicant to help seduce a child. More than 100 media organizations plan to cover it.