We live in a world were media coverage is imperative. Coverage of events worldwide is so vast it is almost taken for granted. Why then in Britain do we have the situation that one of our most important institutions, our legal system, is kept firmly behind closed doors? After all is it not claimed that the courtroom resides in the public sphere?
Intriguingly media coverage is permitted outside of the courtroom. We, as the public are allowed to see officials discussing the case on the law court steps. Why then are we not allowed to observe the judges doing the exact same thing? It is nothing more than a constitutional imbalance.
It is not untrue to say that often the public is dissatisfied with the judicial processes. From our perspective it is a process that happens behind locked doors. How are we to know something is not awry? Could it not be said that advantages could be afforded with the utilisation of new technology?
A high profile case such as the MP’s expenses scandal is the perfect example of a case that should, by all accounts be broadcast. People felt strongly and yet could not judge for themselves as evidence was placed firmly out of reach. The use of cameras would afford the public some kind of recompense, especially in those cases that have a strong public interest.
Concerns have been raised suggesting that officials would ‘act up’ for the camera. This concern I’m afraid to say is flawed. Judges wouldn’t act for a public audience in fear of being charged with contempt of court. Likewise a lawyer wouldn’t show off in front of the camera rather than do his/her job. Even if they did and the result was the loss of their case, two lost cases at most broadcast to the public would soon sort that out.
On the flip side others have raised concerns of constant camera disturbances. However a critical point to raise here is that judges can take action to address any form of disruption, and by all accounts, often do. With this in mind there are not grounds for concerns over disturbance, it is merely a defence for the opposite argument and a weak one at that.
Televised cases would not damage our legal system if anything it would serve only to strengthen it. Cameras would afford us, the public, the opportunity to become a part of Britain’s democracy; a chance to make our own judgements and not be excluded from what has been previously been nothing more than a cloistered establishment.