Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972048 | Print ISBN: 9780761929574 | Online ISBN: 9781412972048| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Free Press and Fair Trial
Jane E. Kirtley
Two cherished U.S. traditions guaranteed by the Bill of Rights are a free press and the right to a fair trial. Although independent media coverage can, and often does, enhance public oversight of the administration of justice, untrammeled reporting of information by the news media prior to and during criminal trials has the potential to undermine the integrity of the proceedings as well as the Sixth Amendment right to a “speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.” Courts have struggled to reconcile the competing constitutional rights implicated by robust news reporting about criminal cases. The Supreme Court has made clear that neither the Sixth nor the First Amendment invariably prevails in a clash between these two competing values. At best, trial courts must strike an uneasy balance in an attempt to further the public interest. Although the ...