Sixth Amendment right

Law dictates that a wedding is a public event as part of the ceremony involves allowing any member of the public to bring up reasons why the marriage should not go ahead. The reception is a private function, but this is not what they were complaining about. A wedding is a "public occasion" and it would have been stupid to think a photographer could not sneak in to such an event. Hello! magazine argued that the wedding and reception "were not genuinely private" because they had already agreed to sell the photos to OK! magazine and that the couple wanted to "control publicity", not the right to privacy.

At the end of the day if you want privacy, you shouldn't hold your wedding in a New York hotel. So, even in a public place we feel we have some privacy. But how much privacy do we actually have? CCTV can be found in almost every high-street in the country and although many people consider these to be vital to crime prevention, others consider them to be an invasion into our privacy and the first steps to developing a 'big brother' type future. In 1995, local man Geoff Peck cut his wrists in a suicide attempt in the town centre of Brentwood, Essex.

This was filmed by the council's CCTV system and the police were called. Although Peck thanked CCTV for saving his life, he is taking Brentwood Council to the European Court of Human Rights (his case was recently declared admissible). Without his knowledge, the council released CCTV footage of his actions to the media, and suddenly, everybody knew about and could see his suicide attempt. We all know about CCTV's in every major high street, but we take them for granted and certainly don't expect to become prime-time TV stars as a result of them.

Mr Peck's appearance on Anglia Television and the BBC's Crime Beat must have been quite a shock for him and definitely effected his reputation. But does he really have a case to protest. Peck's case is a battle of an ordinary man's right to indulge in a private act in a public place, versus the right of the council to use CCTV footage for public consumption. As Philip Leach put it: "It is welcome that the extent of personal privacy is being tested here not by a celebrity but by 'the man in the street'. " (http://www. guardian. co. uk/Print. html)

But if Peck wins his case that filming in public places constitutes an infringement of privacy then this will have dramatic repercussions for ordinary individuals as well as local councils. The government will have to ban not only councils from using CCTV cameras, but other ordinary people with cameras too. Protecting our safety and civil rights is what CCTV is all about. But what about protecting the safety of ex-con and criminals. The James Bulger murder is a prime example of this. A lifetime ban was put in place to protect their new identities and whereabouts of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables from being published by the British media.

Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, president of the high court's family division, who granted the injunction, said the reason protection was necessary was "not to protect the pair's private lives but for their personal safety". If any newspaper was allowed to print current pictures of Venables and Thompson or reveal their new identities, no PCC adjudication, however strong, could make up for it as the boys would be at the mercy of the mob when people take the law into their own hands. However, this injunction does not apply to foreign media groups from publishing the information, with the Internet being the most uncontrollable source.

Internet Service provider 'Demon' feared that under the injunction, aimed at the press and broadcasters, it could have faced fines for contempt of court for unknowingly providing access to the material via a search engine. Demon wanted the judge to specify the steps that would be reasonable for ISP's to take to stop offending material reaching web pages. But Dame Elizabeth said changing technology would make it impossible to cover all eventualities and it was better to leave the injunction in more general terms.

The Internet has changed the rules of compliance and means that the only people who will be truly bound by the injunction are the mainstream UK media. If anyone were to find out the new identities of Venables and Thompson then the two boys would be at extreme risk of being sold out to the foreign press and then hunted by the British public. The Internet spreads urban myths very effectively, and many of the sites appear to have been set up by people with only a scant familiarity with the facts of the case. Many sites offer brutal details of torture meted out to James before his death.

Others call for an unspecified form of "justice". A great US site that debunks urban myths called truthorfiction. com, which came across some spurious details of James's death, has covered the story truthfully and dismissed some of the lies about the incident. The information that may do the online rounds about the murder and the boys new identities may not be accurate, and because of the injunction it will be impossible to check against reality which may mean that innocent people may be endangered as a result.

In America, the Sixth Amendment provides protection from the media during criminal cases so that individuals don't get an unfair trial due to media publicity and public opinion that is generated from media coverage. However, they still allow TV cameras into some court trials, especially when they involve a celebrity. Forty-eight states allow camera coverage of court proceedings-with the judge's permission and subject to restrictions. Some people think that television cameras can disrupt court proceedings and infringe on the Sixth Amendment fight to a fair trial, where as others welcome it.

The massive television coverage surrounding the 0. J. Simpson doubled-murder criminal trial in 1995 highlighted the benefits and drawbacks of having cameras in the courtroom. Some people say that the public has a right to know to know how the legal process works and how trials are conducted. Some experts think that the public can learn a great deal about the judicial process by watching court cases on television. In addition, they say that televising large portions of controversial trials can help viewers make up their own minds about a case instead of relying on journalists to interpret the proceedings and verdicts.

On the other hand, critics argue that the presence of television cameras in the court violates the defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial. Although the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a "public trial," they say that cameras are intrusive and that the media can create a chaotic atmosphere in the courtroom. Also, in the more emotive or criminal trials - murder for example - televising courtroom proceedings can violate the privacy of witnesses, making them vulnerable to harassment and unwanted media attention.