Comments on Extended Coverage Rule

From: George Liebmann
To: Rules
Sent: Wednesday, July 5, 2023 at 05:34:01 PM EDT
Subject: Extended Coverage Rule

Ms. Sandra Haines
Rules Committee

Dear Ms. Haines:

My views on the proposed Rule may be succinctly stated:

1. There is no reason in law or policy for Maryland to depart from the practice of the federal courts which after extensive study have declined to make videotapes available to the parties and press and whose position has been upheld by several federal appellate courts.

2. One of the reasons the Rules Committee Chair and the Court gave for remanding the rule was to give the General Assembly the opportunity to act if it was so minded. A bill to modify the prohibition on broadcasting of criminal trials died in the 2023 General Assembly after hearings as it has many times before.

3. The Reporter made much of the “avalanche” of protests from the media. The new Report becomingly acknowledges that these were almost entirely “short-paragraph copycat letters”. This media campaign should not outweigh the policy judgments of the General Assembly and the Braverman Report..

4. The Rules Committee Report seems to suggest that the only compelling reason for a prohibition was potential gang killing of victims or witnesses. The Report of the Braverman Committee to Study Extended Media Coverage expressed numerous other weighty concerns: that coverage centers on violent crimes, particularly those committed by racial minorities; that pictorial images replace analysis; that it focuses on pretrial and sentencing proceedings which include criminal history and unsworn victim statements; that potential jurors are less willing to serve and potential witnesses to testify; that regulation of recording will involve time-consuming collateral proceedings; that it will require more frequent sequestration of jurors and the delays and costs attendant thereto; and that the temptations of money and fame placed before judges, prosecutors, defense counsel, witnesses, and victims render safeguards illusory and have potentially corrupting and divisive effects.

5. Only a simple change is necessary to render the proposed Rule completely compliant with judicial decisions and to conform it to the federal practice: deletion of Section 16-504(h)(1)(H) of the Report’s Draft.

Respectfully submitted,

George W. Liebmann

Posted in: Criminal Justice, Drugs, Judiciary and Legal Issues

Tags: , , , ,