Date of Award


Document Type




First Reader

Dr. Jeff Root

Second Reader

Dr. Douglas Reed

Third Reader

Dr. Tom Auffenberg


For several years there has been an ongoing dispute between members of the media and members of the legal community about television coverage of judicial proceedings. Members of the media tend to argue that they have a First Amendment right and responsibility to cover court proceedings as a representative of the people. Court officials tend to answer the media's assertion with the Sixth Amendment, which guarantees a defendant the right to a public trial by an impartial jury.

The problem that resulted from the dispute was whether the presence of cameras in the courtroom imposed on defendants' rights or whether barring cameras from judicial proceedings violated the freedom of the press. When cameras were allowed in the courtroom and citizens were allowed to view the proceedings, it may have caused certain individuals who could have served on a jury to predetermine the defendant's guilt or innocence. It might also have distracted the attorneys for either the prosecution or the defense and have resulted in a mistrial. Yet when cameras were excluded from the courtroom, it could have led to the public being misinformed.

The purpose of this study is to look at both sides of the dispute, along with some independent factors, in order to analyze the problem. This study will examine which amendment is typically deemed most important and why. By analyzing both state and federal court rulings, this thesis will compare the differences expressed between the two. Finally, it will project what the future may hold for proponents and opponents of the free speech-fair trial debate.



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