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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Sunday June 16th 2024

Commentary: Cameras in the courtroom: fairness and equality will follow. “there”'s none so blind as they that won”'t see.”


The Yanez verdict demonstrates the need for cameras in the courtroom. Centuries of courtroom secrecy must end, cameras are the vehicle to bring about the needed and necessary changes in criminal, civil and family courts, and would have an immediate effect on equality and the fair administration of justice for all. Besides that, the cameras allow the voters the ability to observe and evaluate the past performance, judicial temperament and other factors for a judge seeking county-wide re-election. Courtroom cameras would enable voters to observe judges and evaluate an incumbent judge up for re-election and make a knowingly and intelligent choice when casting their vote based upon the past performance of the judge.

Judges”' are supposed to be neutral, like a referee in a hockey game, however, a skilled judge while giving the appearance of fairness, can subtly steer the outcome and verdict of a case unjustly.

For instance, Judge Leary”'s withholding the prosecutions most crucial piece of evidence (BCA-video) from the jury subtly steered the juries”' outcome. First, the contemporaneous BCA-video captured Yanez immediately following the shooting and death. Without the BCA-video the jury was deprived of Yanez”'s conflicting statements, but more important, deprived them from observing Yanez immediately in-the-moment and his answers to BCA questions and the observation of Yanez”'s body language and demeanor to discern Yanez”'s veracity.

Instead, the jurors were only presented with the one-sided testimony of Yanez 12 months afterwards””rehearsed, prepared, polished, and packaged testimony and statements, as well as Yanez”'s self-described ”˜state-of-mind”' including all the right legal language, “I was going to die,” “I feared for my life,” “He was reaching for a gun,” to negate the causation elements required for a manslaughter conviction. Nor could the prosecution cross-examine Yanez about the conflicting BCA statements, which again deprived the jury observing Yanez”'s body language and demeanor as a gauge to discern his veracity when under the pressure of cross-examination.

By pulling the “i-teeth” from the prosecution”'s case, Judge Leary, subtly and unjustly steered the outcome. A voter does not need to be skilled in the science of law to observe whether a litigant is getting the short end of a long stick or, whether the judge treats pro se litigants respectfully and fairly in order to evaluate a judge”'s judicial temperance and administration of justice. Voter are entitled to more than a lawn sign to determine the judicial performance, temperament and a judge”'s ideas of justice.

It”'s interesting to note: In ancient times high-priest”'s sat in alter places and practiced magical rituals, and the natives whispered in awe. In modern times, judge”'s in black robes sit in alter places, with the embodiment of the American flag beside them, and practice magical rituals, and the ignorant natives still whisper in awe.

Nevertheless, courtroom secrecy and yard sign for re-election”¦is a fundamentally flawed process to evaluate the re-election of a judge and assure all citizens are treated just and fair, but leaves voters uninformed about the judge”'s past performance, judicial temperament and whether the judge”'s moral accord is at one with the communities”' ideas of justice.

Employers do not blindly give an employee a pay raise without observation and evaluation of their performance. Equally, the only way for a voter to make an intelligent and informed decision and choice before exercising their vote for re-election of a sitting judge is not from a lawn sign, but a courtroom camera.

Justice, which is the end of law, is the ideal compromise between the activities of all in a crowded world. The law seeks to harmonize these activities with the moral sense of the community. When the community is at one in its ideas of justice, this is possible. Law is the skeleton of social order, and it must be clothed upon the flesh and blood of morality. When the community and their elected judges are in accord with the moral sense of the community and its ideas of justice, the end result will produce a fair and just judicial process for all. Secrecy does not produce a fair and just result for all, as was witnessed by the Yanez trial.

The Yanez verdict and Judge Leary”'s withholding of critical testimony, in my opinion denied the jury from hearing “all the evidence” and resulted in a miscarriage of justice, and illustrates the need for change in the judicial system, and cameras to end the secrecy: We cannot shut our eyes to such evidence when it stares us in the face, for “there”'s none so blind as they that won”'t see.” Jonathan Swift, Polite Conversation 174 (Chiswick Press ed., 1892).

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