- If you're drunk/stoned you probably shouldn't try to drive into a restricted police parking facility
- Mistress testifies Waco preacher told her he killed his wife
- Mistress's testimony could be problematic for her
Both local and national news outlets have been captivated by the Matt Baker murder trial this week. The story is quite a compelling one with all the elements that make for good drama. There's a tragic murder victim, the pretty young mistress, and a charismatic preacher with a dark secret. What makes this story even more interesting is that the local media has been live blogging and Twittering the trial and the trial testimony.
I'll admit I was checking my Twitter and a live blog of the trial testimony a whole lot when the mistress was on the stand yesterday for what seemed to be pretty damning testimony from her. But this brings up an interesting question as to what kinds of media activity should be allowed during a trial.
Some jurisdictions allow TV cameras in the court, a la the OJ Trial. Some don't allow cameras of any type, which was the primary reason behind the existence of court room sketch artists. Some courts allow electronic devices in the court, some don't. There are reasons for and against these restrictions.
When the OJ trial was going on, there were critics who believed that the cameras in the court room were a distraction and court watchers noticed that trial participants seemed to be playing to the cameras. There is also a belief that cameras would make some reluctant witnesses even more reluctant to testify.
On the other end of the spectrum, I've testified in courts where any reading and writing materials, electronic devices, etc. are confiscated by burly, armed court officers upon even entering the court building. In these draconian courts, even thinking about a camera in the court would probably be enough to be held in contempt.
The courts need to tread a fine line between what is distracting to the process and the transparency that comes from an open and public trial system. While the live blogged testimony yesterday wasn't pretty, it was important. Our justice process should never operate in secret.