Publicity (Prejudicial Publicity in the Media)

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  • Prejudicial publicity refers to media coverage of criminal trials that may be detrimental to the defendant. Two constitutionally protected rights converge and conflict: The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution grants defendants the right to a fair trial, while the First Amendment guarantees a free press and, thus, the right of the press to report trials. A small minority of criminal trials attract media attention. Even fewer get consid erable and continuing media coverage (e.g., the O. J. Simpson case), and these may be reported as much as entertainment as news.

    There is debate as to how damaging pretrial publicity is to a defendant and how potential damage (assuming it exists) can be mitigated. Much of the research in this area has been done with mock ...

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