Prosecution and the Press

Archive Report

Crime Coverage and Criminal Justice

Treatment of news about crime and criminal trials creates a dilemma that has been attracting wide public attention in this country. When news accounts erode the case of a defendant charged with a criminal offense, or threaten to prejudice the jurors in the case, two constitutional guarantees are brought into conflict: The First Amendment right to freedom of speech and press, and the Sixth Amendment right to an impartial trial by jury. A recurring question before the Supreme Court is which of the two basic rights must give way, even if ever so slightly.

However lofty the setting for these arguments, however academic their tone, the outcome is relevant to the whole society. At issue may be whether one man's life ...

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