There are a number of articles being published regarding whether it is a good idea for Trials to be live streamed to the public, and the commentary provided by people republishing the live streams. So what do you think, should trials like Depp v. Heard, State v. Rittenhouse, and others be live streamed over the internet for the general public's consumption?
One point to keep in mind is that most trials are considered open to the public and it is only a minority of cases that are not open to the public. Now what that meant up until recently, was that the public was free to go to the Courthouse and sit in the gallery to view a trial. What we are seeing today is a number of cases have taken this to the modern era and have begun streaming these cases live over the internet for public consumption beyond those that can fit within the walls of the Courtroom/Courthouse. Proponents of this type of live stream have argued that open to the public means everyone and we shouldn't restrict access to only those that are able to attend in person. Opponents argue that it allows for misinformation and disinformation to be spread regarding the facts of the case. Additionally, I have heard some argue that it can influence the outcome of a trial.
To reach the conclusion that the live stream itself, or the republication of the live stream with commentary can influence the outcome of a trial would require that either the Judge or Jury view that content. Now a jury is not permitted to view anything about a case that is outside of the Courtroom. The jury must only consider the evidence presented within the Courtroom. I would agree that in a case as widely discussed as the Depp v. Heard case that it would be hard for a Jury to view any social media without risking potential exposure to some outside information on the case. However, this doesn't just come from the live streamed trial. Nearly every news outlet in the United States has covered this trial in some capacity, and a number of news outlets in other Countries have as well. The sheer volume of public interest in this trial creates real problems with keeping a jury from unintentionally viewing something unless they just don't watch tv or use their phones.
The other person who could theoretically be influenced is the Judge. In our system we trust Judges to view all kinds of information that is not to be considered when deciding the outcome of a case. This is because the judge must make evidentiary rulings to decide what information is or is not allowed to be introduced to the Jury. Therefore, I think it is likely insignificant if the Judge happens to view something about a case on social media or elsewhere.
Here is where I fall on the topic, I think the more live streams of trials the better. Allowing the general public to see what happens in a court proceeding is critical for transparency and trust. I also think that the commentators on YouTube and other platforms that are attorneys can provide incredibly insightful information to the general public about the process. I personally enjoy watching channels such as Legal Bytes, Rekieta Law, Hoeg Law, Uncivil Law and others. They do a great job providing clear and concise explanations of procedural issues, evidentiary issues, objections, and other litigation issues that the general public may not be understand. All of this combined really allows us to pull back the curtain on the judicial system and grow public trust in the institutions.