Court Won't Reverse Conviction Over Cameras


The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reports that a New York State appeals court has refused to throw out a murder conviction just because the trial was televised and even though that coverage violated a state ban on court cameras.

The judge who allowed the coverage, Frank LaBuda, does not agree with the ban, according to a Court TV exec, and has allowed its cameras into another murder trial in the state.

Despite that state ban, LaBuda agreed to let a cable access channel cover the trial of Dianne Odell for the murder of several children. Court TV picked up the feed.

After her conviction, Odell's attorneys had asserted the cameras prevented her from getting a fair trial.

The appeals court found that the defendant's attorneys could have protested the initial decision to allow cameras, but since they did not, to get a reversal the defendant would have had to provide evidence that the cameras had prevented a fair trial, which the defendant did not do, the appeals court concluded.

Kathy Kirby, counsel to the Radio-Television News Directors Association, was pleased with the decision, which she called "consistent with what has been the court's experience with cameras for the past several decades. We are aware of no decision where a court has found the presence of a camera has violated the defendant's right to a fair trial."

Ditto Court TV EVP and General Counsel Doug Jacobs, who has tried unsuccessfully to get New York to reverse its ban. "It has always been Court TV's position that cameras do not interfere with the defendant's fair trial rights, nor with the orderly administration of justice. We heartily applaud the appeals court decision."