Free Press v. Fair Trial: Supreme Court Decisions since 1807

Free Press v. Fair Trial: Supreme Court Decisions since 1807

Free Press v. Fair Trial: Supreme Court Decisions since 1807

Free Press v. Fair Trial: Supreme Court Decisions since 1807


This volume takes a historical approach in analyzing all of the major United States Supreme Court cases relevant to the conflict between a free press and fair trial. Campbell's thorough analysis, which relates 30 primary cases to each other and to nearly 70 associated supporting cases, consists of five parts: (1) legal backgrounds; (2) immediate historical circumstances giving rise to the cases; (3) complete summaries of all court opinions, concurring opinions, and dissenting opinions, often using the Justices' own words; (4) the Court's ruling; and (5) analysis of the significance of the cases.


Few areas of law have attracted as much attention, confusion, and probably disdain as the problems arising from the conflict between a free press and a fair trial. These problems are as old as the press itself, and, for the past two centuries, Americans have sought their own constitutionally acceptable solutions. This book seeks to help non-lawyers understand the primary issues of this conflict by taking an historical look at the attempts of the United States Supreme Court to reconcile the protections of two, sometimes incompatible amendments found in the Bill of Rights: the First and Sixth Amendments.

Starting with Burr v. United States (1807), the historical survey highlights the thirty major United States Supreme Court cases devoted primarily to this conflict and presents often-cited influential quotations from 70 supporting cases. Four areas of relevant information are presented for each major case. First is the legal background. Examined in this section are the issues that constitute the legal context of the case. Among the items covered are relevant state and federal statutes, important lower court decisions and other germane decisions by the Court, rules and regulations promulgated by the American Bar Association, and opinions and evaluations from eminent jurists and prominent scholars.

The circumstances surrounding the events giving rise to the case represent the second area of relevant information. This section is particularly helpful to a researcher because the Court is extremely reluctant to divulge factual information about persons and events involved in any given case. Often the Court will leave out first names, geographical locations, or details essential to understanding the actions taken by a defendant who, as a result of such actions, faced criminal charges. Nowhere in Estes v. Texas (1965), for example, does the Court reveal that Estes was selling nonexistent liquid fertilizer tanks.

The third section presents detailed summaries of the cases. Majority, plurality, concurring, and dissenting opinions are summarized using, wherever efficacious, direct quotations. An analysis of the significance of a case forms . . .

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