Justice – seen to be done or media spectacle?

The current trial of Oscar Pistorius has drawn some praise and criticism for the televising of proceedings. Strangely, the accused is never shown, so we are not allowed to see his reactions to the prosecution questioning.

A world-renowned athlete who shot and killed his girlfriend was always going to be a media frenzy. To have daily access to the proceedings does provide the public with a fuller picture of what happened according to the evidence presented.That’s not to say that it guarantees a fairer outcome. Witnesses may find it daunting to have their words broadcast live to the world in an instant, but the cameras do not appear to be obtrusive.

courtroom cameras

Filming in the Pistorius trial has focused on the  defence and prosecution lawyers and has not used any special zooming or effects to dramatise the action. The accused has been given numerous breaks to compose himself during questioning and we are not privy to those moments. The discussions in the judge’s chambers are held in secret. In other words, all has been done to ensure that the filming of the trial observes strict regulation and preserves the decorum of a crucial legal process.

 

From what I have seen and heard, the public’s right to see justice done is being conducted in a professional and laudable manner. Public confidence in the legal system can only be enhanced by viewing how evidence is presented, and witnesses cross-examined.

When the verdict is given, we who shared in the proceedings may have an informed opinion on how that judgement was reached. There is no jury for the South African trial, so it is even more important that people have confidence in the judgement handed down by one person. Openness can boost that confidence.

 

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