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posted: 12/30/2012 5:00 AM

Cameras only add to courtroom stress

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A person on trial for a crime, whether guilty or innocent, is under great emotional stress. Adding access to media coverage with video and still cameras can do nothing but add significantly to that stress. And until the trial is over, one does not know whether or not this is adding to the tribulations of an innocent person, particularly for those of us who are naturally shy.

Media coverage is beloved by the press, and by the lawyers who gain free publicity. But freedom of the press in no way gives paparazzi license to invade people's privacy, despite the fact that they think so. We cannot legally allow the press access to people's bedrooms and bathrooms, or to school classrooms where they would disrupt the educational process, or even churches if the pastor deems their cameras disruptive of the service.

And, as validly pointed out by Mr. Utchen in a prior Fence Post comment, the Sixth Amendment gives the right to a "speedy and public trial" to the accused person, not to the media. The accused has significant say in the degree of publicity.

I think all of us know better than to think that the behavior of all of the people involved in a public trial will be unchanged if they know they are on camera and will appear in the press. And if those people will behave differently, that is by definition a disruption of the judicial process.

Gib Van Dine

West Chicago

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