A Journalist’s Role in the USA Judicial System
Does the USA judicial system work fairly? Which guarantees can get society in order to be sure that the government is protecting its citizens by bringing charges with sufficient evidence against those suspected of crimes, and not by accusing innocent people? For these reasons there are the news media which during the open trials highlight all steps of trial.
In a case that gets wide attention, a journalist’s role starts well before jury selection. Many stories will have been published or broadcast, and potential jurors will be asked if they have seen them. Judges who anticipate media coverage may ask reporters to withhold “advance” stories about a trial that might contain information that would tend to bias juries.
Once the jury is seated, the news media typically covers the trial just like any other case. Sometimes jurors may ask questions during the trial. Reporters take note to see if there is any clue as to which way the jurors may be leaning.
Jurors provide the climax to most trials when they announce the verdict, but that result rarely sheds light on whatever drama might have been involved in the closed-door deliberations.
Other courts try to prevent journalist-juror contact. Some courts use anonymous juries, meaning that jurors are identified only by number, judges sometimes prohibit photographing them.
Judges always announce jurors that they are not required to talk to anyone about their experiences, but that they have a right to speak.
Some judges, knowing of intense media interest, arrange for jurors to speak to journalists in press-conference fashion after a trial. Reporters are able to ask questions without resorting to tracking jurors down in their homes or offices, which some jurors might regard as harassment.