Judicial Images
Production, Management and Consumption

From Oscar Pistorius to Reality TV: the implications of using the courtroom as a television studio

Time: 6:30pm on Wednesday 13th April, 2016

Location: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building. The London School of Economics


The presence of television cameras in the criminal trial of Oscar Pistorius, the South African Olympic athlete charged with murder, provides a now familiar example of how a criminal trial can be turned into a global television sensation. The media claim that cameras offer a new form of open justice, better educate the public about law and enhance scrutiny of courts, judges and justice. But the TV camera also has the potential to turn justice into a freak show and to alienate and to undermine public confidence. While court made video footage attracts few viewers, TV shows such as Judge Judy (US) or Judge Rinder (UK) dispense a tabloid parody of justice which attracts millions of viewers. These reality shows offer everyday experiences of ‘judges’ and ‘justice’ that are very far from the reality of how court systems work.

This public lecture brings together judges from a range of backgrounds and perspectives to explore the implications of using the courtroom as a television studio.

Dikgang Moseneke has written about the challenges that televised justice is generating in the South African context where open justice is fundamental to the post-apartheid political and constitutional landscape.

Ruth Herz brings her unique experience as both a practising judge and a judge in a reality TV court show to the debate about cameras in court.

As head of the civil courts in England and Wales, Lord Dyson sits at the head of a dimension of the justice system that remains largely untouched by television.