Should Autopsy Photos Be Shown?

The press wants to see

Victims’ bodies photographs.

Public’s right to know!

8/15/94

This People v. Simpson haiku I wrote 20 years ago today reflected an especially touchy situation, so far as the trial judge, Lance Ito, was concerned. As mentioned on page 88 of Anatomy of a Trial, Ito was determined, out of consideration for the families of murder victims Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman, that the autopsy photographs not be made public. Members of the media, however, insisted that they had a right to see them, since they were going to be shown to the jurors. To satisfy their demands, Ito arranged for the photographs be set up on easel-type stands in an adjacent courtroom and allow members of the media file past them, but not take any pictures of them.

He probably thought he had made a good decision considering the rather cavalier manner in which at least one reporter behaved during the trial when the photographers were passed to the jurors, which I describe on page 53 of Anatomy. She snacked on Skittles, which was not only grossly insensitive, but violated courtroom rules of not bringing food into the courtroom.

 

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