When I look at the impact of the media coverage on the Sheppard trial with hindsight, I view that type of media circus as similar to firing a gun into the air. Similarly, in most cases, media coverage of a crime generates some attention but does not impede the administration of justice. Media coverage of criminal court proceedings has no definite standards and parameters. It is difficult to predict when that coverage will expand into a media circus and even more difficult to know, prospectively, what impact the circus will have on the defendant's trial. When I was visiting the media room yesterday I felt like the Sheppard family is a free press casualty, struck by the falling bullet of a media circus. I am not suggesting that the media should be kept out, but simply that we, as officers of the court charged to protect the system, should remember that the media reports the events as they occur. We should concentrate on making sure that justice is protected if it takes a day, a week, or a month for something to happen.
John A. Walton,
Struck by the Falling Bullet: The Continuing Need for Definitive Standards in Media Coveage of Criminal Proceedings,
49 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at http://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol49/iss3/6