The News and the Accused

The author believes that the Reardon Standards, if implemented, would provide an effective solution to the problem of prejudicial information, and that this potential can be best realized through adoption and enforcement of the Standards by the courts. This conclusion is based upon analysis of the following issues: (1) The nature of the problem, including an examination of (a) the nature of prejudicial information, (b) those who create the problem either by initially releasing or subsequently disseminating such information, and (c) the related effect of courtroom procedure upon the impact of such information. An analysis of these issues suggests that a procedure must be developed which can control those persons who either leak or disseminate prejudicial information and which will diminish the deleterious impact of such information. (2) The effectiveness of present regulations. The author concludes that existing safeguards do not, in fact, protect the accused’s right to an impartial jury trial. (3) The effectiveness of press media codes. The author concludes that while these codes offer a new approach, they are inherently incapable of providing a feasible solution to the problem. (4) The effectiveness of the Reardon Standards. In examining this issue, the collateral issues of the interpretation of the Standards and their relation to freedom of the press will be analyzed. The author concludes that the Standards, if diligently enforced, offer a solution to the problem that will be both effective and will not violate the constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press. (5) The agency which could best adopt and enforce the Reardon Standards. It is the author’s conclusion that the courts, rather than police departments, bar associations or legislatures would be best suited to implement these Standards. The author suggests that the Standards be adopted through rule of court by the appellate courts in the various jurisdictions.