The George Zimmerman trial has renewed the debate about cameras in the courtroom. Unfortunately, Kathleen Parker’s recent column on the subject, “May it please the public” [op-ed, July 10], was not helpful. She committed the error of generalizing her individual personal experience to universal conclusions.
Anecdotal experience has some value. Here is mine: As a prosecutor and trial judge, I spent nearly three decades in courtrooms with cameras and, over the past 10 years, have heard hundreds of cases at the Ohio Supreme Court that were broadcast live on TV. I have seen no evidence that the presence of cameras has a negative effect on proceedings.
But more important than a person’s experience is objective, empirical data.
Given opponents’ confident assertions that cameras cause showboating and other problems in the courtroom, there is a surprising paucity of recent studies on the topic. Most credible studies do not support camera opponents’ claims.
However, the objective evidence is persuasive that open, transparent courtrooms — including broadcast proceedings with reasonable restrictions — support public understanding of the courts and foster trust and confidence in the judicial system.
Cameras connect the public with the judicial system, and they should be allowed with reasonable restrictions.
Maureen O’Connor, Columbus, Ohio
The writer is chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court.