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Essay on Filming Jury Deliberations for Public Television

Project id 1013482
Subject area Biology
Document type Essay
Words 1446
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Filming Jury Deliberations for Public Television A whirlwind of controversy arose from November 2002, when Judge Ted Poe, ruled that PBS's Frontline could film jury deliberations in the trial of Cedric Harrison, 17, who faces the death penalty for allegedly killing a man in a car-jacking. In supporting his ruling, Poe maintained that "cameras in courts maintain the system fair" and are an essential instrument for civil schooling.1 Poe approved Frontline's proposal, in which a discreet ceiling camera would be used and no full-time cameraman would be critical. Frontline had proposed to personalize the deliberations and broadcast them approximately one year after the verdict as a portion of a two-to-three hour documentary which could spotlight Harris County, whose juries have sentenced more people to death than juries in any other county in the U.S.2 Opinions seeing possible camera use have been starkly divided between the Harrison camp as well as the prosecution. Harrison, his mother, and his lawyers are responsible for this filming, and all signed waivers stating they wouldn't use the movie on appeal or to seek a new trial. Conversely, the prosecution, direct by District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal, sentenced to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for the banning of these cameras on grounds which the prospect of being filmed may influence the jury's selection and its deliberation. By custom--not by legislation--trial jury deliberations traditionally are secret in Texas. The use of cameras in courthouses has been abandoned to the discretion of judges. Deliberations in criminal cases have been recorded before, but not at a capital punishment case. Texas law mandates grand jury deliberations be secret, however there is no such statute regarding trial juries. .

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