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Open Maryland’s courtrooms to cameras | READER COMMENTARY

Exterior of Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse, Circuit Court for Baltimore. November 12, 2020. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun).
Exterior of Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse, Circuit Court for Baltimore. November 12, 2020. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun). (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

“Broadcasting gives listeners the illusion that the chosen snatches of testimony that they are shown by the all-powerful media are all that there is to know about a case … and the reporter’s comments on it are gospel.” This is the crux of the argument in the recent commentary, “The case against cameras in Maryland courtrooms” (Feb. 22).

Author George Liebmann stands against the notion of broadcasting Maryland court proceedings. As one who works in the those very courtrooms every day (when they’re actually open) as a public defender and who would be the subject of many a courtroom film, I don’t agree with this sentiment. Without live or even taped access to proceedings they did not attend, the media takes everything out of context, be it on television, with such myopic segments such as Fox 45′s fire and brimstone “Operation Crime & Justice” or even with some of the very pieces on arrests and cases in The Sun.

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Fear and salacious stories too often dictate narratives to sell papers, collect clicks and likes, and draw viewers — after all, it’s a for-profit business. Not to say that we don’t need to the press, because we do. But, come on. To say that the media doesn’t trade on the crime hysteria in Baltimore is just naive. In letting cameras into the courts, we’d get a no less contextualized version of the proceedings than what we’ve got now.

Plus, we might get more accountability. Faceless, anonymous judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys will be held to task. I stand behind my representation of indigent folks in a justice system that often eats my clients alive. So, what’s wrong with a little camera light disinfecting any lingering unfairness or injustice for either side?

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Todd Oppenheim, Baltimore

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