In wake of O.J. ‘circus,’ cameras barred from Susan Smith trial
SOUTH CAROLINA–Concerned that cameras will influence jurors and intimidate witnesses, the judge in the Susan Smith murder trial has barred cameras from the trial set to start in mid-July. Judge William Howard ruled that TV coverage would present a “substantial likelihood of interference to the process” of trying Smith, who is charged with drowning her two young children.
Responding to arguments made by defense counsel that televising the trial would create an O.J. Simpson-style media circus, Howard said at the ruling, “I do think in this case, there is a great possibility of over-dramatization or embarrassments that would make it difficult for some people to come forward and testify,” according to the Associated Press.
South Carolina law gives the presiding judge broad discretion in controlling media coverage of trials.
Ms. Smith’s attorney, David Bruck, originally raised concerns with the court about the solicitor, Thomas Pope, and his unwillingness to plea bargain. Bruck argued in court that Pope was interested in using the cameras to grandstand for personal gain and therefore was unwilling to settle the case before trial. (State v. Smith; Media Counsel: Jay Bender)