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Electronic Media Coverage of Federal Civil Proceedings: An Evaluation of the Pilot Program in Six District Courts and Two Courts of Appeals

NCJ Number
M T Johnson; C Krafka
Date Published
54 pages
This report evaluates a pilot program developed by the Judicial Conference of the United States, in which electronic media were allowed to cover civil proceedings in six Federal district courts and two Federal courts of appeals.
The evaluation covers the period between July 1, 1991, and June 30, 1993. Data used to evaluate the pilot program included information on the application process, questionnaire responses from participating and nonparticipating judges and from attorneys who were involved in proceedings that were covered by the media, interviews, a content analysis of news broadcasts incorporating courtroom footage, and a review of studies exploring effects of media coverage on witnesses and jurors in State court proceedings. The findings show that, during the evaluation period, the media filed applications for coverage in 257 cases, 82 percent of which were approved. Most of these related to television coverage of trials. Judges and attorneys who participated in these courtroom proceedings generally reported no negative effects on other participants, decorum, or the administration of justice. Content analysis of television news coverage showed that reporters used it to illustrate their narration and to provide information to the viewer about the nature and fact of the case involved; however, the media transmitted little verbal information to viewers about the legal process. 4 tables, 36 notes, and 1 appendix