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Hastings Law Journal

Authors

Jeff Angeja

Abstract

Any discussion of capital punishment sparks heated debate regarding not only the merits of capital punishment, but also the humanity of particular modes of execution and the efficiency and justice of the last minute appeals process. The electronic media has added a further component to this debate: Is there a First Amendment right of access to the execution chamber that would allow the electronic media to videotape an execution for subsequent viewing? If current death penalty statutes remain in effect, then this perplexing issue may represent one of the most controversial death penalty issues.

This Note first examines the criteria on which the courts base a First Amendment right of press access. Second, this Note applies those criteria to the context of an execution chamber, and asserts that a First Amendment right of press access to the execution chamber exists. Third, this Note refutes counter arguments and briefly explores a Fourteenth Amendment basis for allowing cameras into the courtroom. Finally, this Note highlights an Eighth Amendment nexus which further supports the First Amendment right of camera access to the execution chamber.

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