Televising court proceedings

Generally speaking proceedings in criminal courts in England and Wales are open to the public and may be reported in the press but no photography or recording is allowed inside the courtroom.

There are exceptions to this general rule.  For example the reporting of a particular case may be prohibited entirely.  I was myself involved in a confiscation hearing recently which is subject to just such a prohibition.  I believe the prohibition is in place because the defendant in the confiscation had been convicted of money laundering offences arising from alleged offences committed by others who have been charged and are awaiting trial.  Those future trials might be prejudiced if it were known that this defendant had been convicted of laundering the proceeds of their alleged offences.

Another exception to the general rule concerns the proceedings of the Supreme Court in London.  Those proceedings are routinely televised.

However the general rule is there to protect witnesses (who may not wish to appear on camera) and to stop court proceedings from degenerating into a media circus with lawyers, judges and witnesses 'performing' for the television audience.  The court is not intended to be akin to the Big Brother House!

Nevertheless there is a desire that the public should understand more of court processes and obviously televising court proceedings might help that.

It has been reported that the government is shortly to announce the televising of sentencing of convicted offenders.

Typically a Crown Court case involves an opening speech by prosecuting counsel, the calling of prosecution witnesses (and their cross-examination by the defence), a speech by the defence counsel, the calling of defence witnesses (and their cross-examination by the prosecution), a closing speech by prosecuting counsel, a closing speech by defence counsel, a speech from the judge summing up the evidence and explaining the law to the jury, the jury retiring and then returning and delivering their verdict, and finally (in the event of a guilty verdict) the judge making a reasonably short speech sentencing the defendant and explaining his sentence.

The proposal apparently is that that final speech by the judge when sentencing the convicted defendant (and only that speech) may be televised.

It's an interesting idea.

David

Comments
Old Greying Accountant's picture

Why?

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

I think it a ridiculous idea, courts are serious places, not public entertainment.

If people want to see what happens in a court then they should attend in person.

A more sensible idea would be to record various procedings and use them in schools for educational purposes!

Jon Stow's picture

I tend to agree

Jon Stow | | Permalink

that the sentencing on its own should not be televised. People will tune in just to see the convicted person's face. Very voyeuristic. 

If the public wants that sort of thing they can watch Judge Judy.

Flash Gordon's picture

I agree

Flash Gordon | | Permalink

While I admit it would be interesting (from a knowledge point of view rather than an entertainment one) I'd want to see the whole case & if I want I can, just in person. There's enough reality tv as it is, I'd hate to see our legal system lower itself to that level....

Old Greying Accountant's picture

If they want people to see how the legal system works ...

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

... why not bring back Crown Court?

I think 90% of school day illnesses were prolonged unecessarily by a day so the verdict wasn't missed!

Brilliant

The Black Knight | | Permalink

The possibilities are endless ! Sentencing is a bit boring. Why not show the whole proceedings do away with the jury and use the big brother voting system instead. Could even follow up with a new reality prisoner cell block H.

And there would be no protection from the rehabilitation of offenders Act, so you would have to pay the crims for their celebrity status. May be an excellent career choice.

Criminal gangs could also use the information as part of their recruiting process.

Owain_Glyndwr's picture

Terrible idea

Owain_Glyndwr | | Permalink

Why do I get a mental picture of old crones smoking clay pipes and knitting while they wait for the guillotine to fall ?

 

 

davidwinch's picture

Further details

davidwinch | | Permalink

Further detail is now available in a report on the BBC website.  It appears that the plan has the support of both government ministers and opposition MPs.

David

Owain_Glyndwr's picture

-

Owain_Glyndwr | | Permalink

Just because MPs from all sides support it doesn't mean it's a good idea - it just means that the opposition couldn't think of a way to score political points by opposing it.

 

 

Owain_Glyndwr's picture

Lawyers already looking for sponsorship deals

Owain_Glyndwr | | Permalink

With the government set to allow some sentencing in English and Welsh courts to be televised, lawyers have begun frantically searching for sponsorship deals to help them make even more money.

The chairman of the Bar Council, revealed that discussions were already underway with a number of advertisers regarding the possibility of lawyers sporting an array of company logos on their clothing.

“What better time could there be to draw the public’s attention to major brands than when sentencing a dirty paedo,” he insisted.

“Seeing a murderer get sent down because of the hard work of a Nike sponsored lawyer will allow the public to view brands in a whole new light.”

He was also keen to see the introduction of product placement within the justice system.

“People in the dock facing strong questioning from a prosecution lawyer can become uncomfortable and start to sweat profusely,” he said.

“If the defence lawyer was to stand up and say ‘objection m’lord! Your honour, my client is in need of some emergency personal hygiene – but with the help of this deodorant even the most guilty defendant can keep his cool’.”

“Erm, not that I’ve thought about it much.”

“Oh, oh, what about pressing the red button and playing along with the jury?”

“The lottery show on Saturdays is crying out for some interactive justice!” 

 

 

 

even Ken Clarke has given up

The Black Knight | | Permalink

and joined the PR and lipservice department. After all now europe makes all the decisions there is little else for them to do to justify their existence.

The purpose of a revolution is to show just how bad it can be !

I say lets have big brother voting, Ant and Deck presenting, MP for a week competitions, True democracy is now possible and we have no need for puppets any more.

(they could not do any worse with the economy, at least)

The picture above paints a thousand words as to the result.

Add comment
Log in or register to post comments