News Versus Background Information
Anyone who's ever watched an old movie has seen the kind of pandemonium the judge
allegedly was trying to avoid: the verdict is announced, the gallery roars approval
or lack thereof, flashbulbs pop by the score, and reporters scramble to the bank of
pay phones where they call in the story for "EXTRA!!!" editions.
Of course, for a high-profile case, technology has changed all that, and without
need for the Internet at all. If cameras are allowed in the courtroom, the reading
of a verdict will be instantly seen by all the millions of interested viewers world
wide. Such was the case for the OJ Simpson criminal trial.
And if cameras are not allowed in the courtroom, or, if a ruling is merely
a written opinion being handed out in the clerk's office, then a gaggle of
reporters standing outside the building will intone the word as soon as they
get it. Thanks to satellite trucks, each reporter's countenance and voice will
reach millions with the verdict, within minutes if not seconds. Such was the
case for the OJ Simpson civil trial: news organizations worked out ways to quickly,
and unobtrusively, relay the verdict to the reporters on camera.
So all the court needed to do in this case was this: contact
each of the 21 organizations that were tapped to receive the e-mail, and instead
invite one reporter from each to be
physically present for the news. The court could choose to distribute
the news in the courtroom or in the clerk's office.
In either case, simply limit the gallery to those
chosen reporters, plus the principals of the case, including of
of course the prosecutors and defense attorneys. For a courtroom
reading, the gallery might include select others, such as the
members of the defendant and victim families. Set clear rules defining when the
21 reporters would be allowed to leave the room.
Or, to make matters simpler, merely read a summary of the decision in front of
the same TV cameras that were in the courtroom for the entire trial.
Either approach would've gotten the verdict out by within a couple of minutes of
its announcement - i.e. by 10:02 am instead of 11:02 am.