The Watchful Eye: American Justice in the Age of the Television Trial
According to Thaler, the presence of cameras in the courtroom is a pervasive technology that can affect public perceptions of the judicial process, change the behavior and attitudes of trial participants, and ultimately transform the sober process of justice into a media event designed for maximum public exposure. The author has interviewed more than 50 people--prominent journalists, academics, and members of the legal system--and brought together their observations in a fascinating historical and psychological profile of the televised courtroom. Thaler provides a historical overview and theoretical perspective, and discusses the new cable courtroom network and the current and continuing camera debate in New York City. He makes reference to the recent celebrated cases involving Amy Fisher, William Kennedy Smith, and Rodney King, then turns to an in-depth case study of the Joel Steinberg murder trial, including insights from the presiding judge, trial attorneys, witnesses, jurors, and the defendant himself, as well as journalists who covered the trial. The author concludes that the process of justice is slowly being turned into an entertainment vehicle, not unlike the show trials of bygone eras.