David D. Beck v. Washington
Docket No. 1962-40 369 U.S. 541, 8 L.Ed.2d 98, 82 S.Ct. 955 ( 1962)
Argued November 14, 1961. Decided May 14, 1962.
Coming in the middle of a series of four cases that are considered somewhat of a minor revolution in the Court's rulings related to pretrial publicity, this case seems a bit out of place. In many ways Beck appears more similar to three much earlier cases, two from the previous decade, than to the three most immediately before it and the one immediately after it.
The four chronologically closest cases all emphasize the dangers of pretrial publicity. Marshall v. U.S. ( 1959), for example, asserts that information published in the newspaper may be more prejudicial than information introduced into court because the process for printing a news article is not regulated by the same safeguards protecting the introduction of evidence into a trial. Consequently, the Court noted, the impact of publishing a newspaper article may result in a mistrial. In Irvin v. Dowd ( 1961) the Court ruled that a simple declaration by members of the jury that they can render a verdict based solely on the evidence presented in court is not sufficient to declare them impartial. It further stated that appeals courts, when evaluating the credibility of an entire jury, must take into consideration evidence of continued and massive pretrial publicity. In Janko v. U.S. ( 1961) the Court reversed without comment the conviction of Joseph W. Janko for income tax evasion after a newspaper article referred to him as a "former convict," who was found guilty in an earlier case on the same charge. Finally, in Rideau v. Louisiana ( 1963) the Court said the broadcast of a confession would result in a denial of the Fourteenth Amendment's right to due process because persons exposed to this publicity necessarily are rendered incapable of becoming impartial jurors.
The three earlier cases, in contrast, emphasize the burden of showing unfairness: Adams v. U.S. ( 1942), Darcy v. Handy ( 1956), and Stroble v. California ( 1952). This earlier series of cases stresses the requirement of