Why having TV cameras in British courts would make justice impossible for women

In 1989, the House of Lords began allowing cameras to record their proceedings.

Thirty years later, how often do you see the Prime Minister’s questions in its entirety, instead of making noise in the news and on social media? Does watching the House of Commons circus make you believe in our government?

For most of us, the answers are probably never, and absolutely not. So why do we think telecasting court proceedings would be any different?

Proponents of the new ruling, such as the Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab, have argued that allowing TV cameras in court will increase confidence in the justice system, and help the public understand the complex decisions judges make. .

Whether this is even necessary is questionable. A 2013 report by the Ministry of Justice found that public opinion on the criminal justice system had been relatively stable since 2003, and skewed toward the positive. How much this opinion affects the functioning of the criminal justice system cannot be agreed upon; The report also found that attitudes toward the police, and the belief that the court was too lenient, were a more powerful predictor of cooperation with legal authorities.

In today’s world of 15 second social media stories and breaking news channels, our attention span is getting shorter, and the time we spend digesting our news is getting shorter. It is unlikely that the introduction of cameras in criminal courts would not be affected by this incident. Complicated and lengthy tests will be turned into cryptic snippets and brutal memes – all giving people the false impression that they are well-versed.

We’ve already seen this play in real time. Almost anyone with a social media account flooded their feed with highly selective, edited clips from the Amber Heard v. Johnny Depp defamation lawsuit earlier this year. According to The Washington Post, “The hashtag #justiceforjohnnydepp has garnered nearly 7bn views on TikTok, and even weeks later, continues to regularly trend on Twitter with hashtags like #JohnnyDeppWon and #AmberHeardIsALiar.”

While the jury was instructed not to pay attention to social media, they were not indexed (as is the norm) and were free to go home to watch television, browse those same social media feeds. Do it, and talk to your family and friends about it. what was happening.

A research firm found that the Aquaman actor was targeted by “one of the worst cases of platform manipulation and openly abuse from a bunch of Twitter accounts” and that trolls manipulated conversations and tended to “suppress any positive tweets.” Supporting Amber Heard while targeting and abusing women. ,

An academic who supported Heard was targeted by trolls who used photographs of her dead child, and harassed members of her family.

If you hadn’t looked deeper into the case, you wouldn’t think that Johnny Depp and Amber Heard were both found guilty of defamation, and ordered to pay a multi-million-dollar settlement. Television coverage of the courts is not about promoting the criminal justice system, it is about weaponizing public opinion. Mostly, the victims are women and other minorities.

The confusing verdict presented at the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial – that somehow Heard had lied about the abuse, but Depp claimed he had lied – is a testament to how the social media campaign’s presence TV cameras can erode any sense of justice.

In the US, where cameras have been allowed in courts since 1935, several states have since moved to restrict the rights of television and news workers after two major criminal convictions were overturned by the Supreme Court because The presence of cameras had infringed upon the right of the respondent. Fair trial. One of those released is suspected of killing his wife.

Today, in the first televised sentence, 25-year-old Ben Oliver was sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison for the stabbing to death of his 74-year-old grandfather in London last year. Oliver, who struggled with serious mental health problems but had problems accessing support, killed his grandfather after learning that he had been accused of historical misconduct.

The judge remarked that: “Your mother told you that you would not find peace until your grandfather died, you even knew how sad she had hurt your grandmother,” and “you didn’t think Was there an alternative to killing your grandfather.”

He was acquitted of murder by a jury after admitting to murder on the grounds of lesser responsibility.

The case of Ben Oliver is a tragic and complicated case, beset by abuse and untreated mental health problems that have likely caused indescribable pain to his family. So does the broadcast of his trauma to the public on television shed light on these important topics, or reassure people that the justice system is complex but fair?

Social media would suggest otherwise. Comments on Facebook included “this is crack cocaine for mindless people”, “there are families like this so we need to bring the death penalty back”, “this is why we need the death penalty return”, and “the pathetic punishment is shame. It’s about “you do justice”.

Twitter isn’t much better. “Is it just me or does someone else think Ben Oliver’s mother sounds like a perfect evil cow?” An anonymous account complained. Another came to grips: “Well this is boring. Can’t see the culprit.”

So much for the education and understanding.