Why Was Depp-Heard Trial Televised?


Depp’s lawyer, Ben Chew, welcomed the cameras. He said that Heard had already “trashed” Depp in the media, and should not be allowed to hide at trial.

“Mr. Depp believes in transparency,” Chew said.

In weighing the issue, Azcarate noted that she was getting a lot of media requests, and she had a responsibility to keep the proceedings open to observers. If cameras were not allowed, she worried that reporters would come to the courthouse, potentially creating a hazardous condition there.

(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

“I don’t see any good cause not to do it,” Azcarate said.

Allowing gavel-to-gavel coverage has given viewers the chance to see all the evidence, assess the credibility of the witnesses, and make up their own minds without having anything filtered out by news outlets. But some observers worry that Azcarate’s decision will also have a chilling effect on victims of domestic violence.

“Allowing this trial to be televised is the single worst decision I can think of in the context of intimate partner violence and sexual violence in recent history,” said Michele Dauber, a professor at Stanford Law School. “It has ramifications way beyond this case.”

Michelle Simpson Tuegel, an attorney who has represented victims of sex offenses in high-profile cases, said that her clients often don’t even want their real names used in public court filings. Now, she worries that they will have to fear appearing on a livestream broadcast.

“They see someone who is not only being televised, but is being taken apart in such a hateful way,” she said. “Livestreaming it is really just a way to magnify what survivors are going through. I’m saddened and disgusted by how it is going to create a discourse of scaring people from seeking justice and speaking out about what they’ve been through.”

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