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A defendant has the right on review to show that the media's coverage of his case, printed or broadcast, compromised the ability of the jury to judge him fairly. Alternatively, a defendant might show that broadcast coverage of his particular case had an adverse impact on the trial participants sufficient to constitute a denial of due process. To demonstrate prejudice in a specific case a defendant must show something more than juror awareness that the trial is such as to attract the attention of broadcasters.
The Florida Supreme Court, following a pilot program for televising judicial proceedings in the State, promulgated a revised Canon 3A (7) of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct. The Canon permits electronic media and still photography coverage of judicial proceedings, subject to the control of the presiding judge and to implementing guidelines placing on trial judges obligations to protect the fundamental right of the accused in a criminal case to a fair trial. Appellants, who were charged with a crime that attracted media attention, were convicted after a jury trial in a Florida trial court over objections that the televising and broadcast of parts of their trial denied them a fair and impartial trial. The Florida District Court of Appeal affirmed, finding no evidence that the presence of a television camera hampered appellants in presenting their case, deprived them of an impartial jury, or impaired the fairness of the trial. The Florida Supreme Court denied review. The Florida courts did not construe Estes v. Texas, 381 U.S. 532, as laying down a per se constitutional rule barring broadcast coverage under all circumstances.
Absent showing of prejudice, was the State program permitting radio, television, and photographic coverage of criminal proceedings over accused's objection, constitutional?
On review, the court analyzed the previous opinion and determined that the case was not to be interpreted as announcing a constitutional rule barring still photographic, radio, and television coverage in all cases and under all circumstances. The court held the case did not stand as an absolute ban on state experimentation with an evolving technology. The court held that the constitution did not prohibit a state from experimenting with the program authorized by Canon 3A(7). The court held defendants failed to offer evidence that any participant in their case was affected by the presence of cameras. The court found that there was no showing that the trial was compromised by television coverage.