proper administration of justice and the right of an accused to a fair trial.”
Boththese latter concerns are equally paramount and cannot lightly be disregarded.Before proceeding with this line of thought, however, let me clarify thatthe
rule is not imposed on all forms of speech.
In so far as criminal proceedings are concerned
, two classes of
made during the pendency of the proceedings
can be considered as contemptuous:
, commentson the merits of the case, and
, intemperate and unreasonable comments onthe conduct of the courts with respect to the case. Publicized speech should beunderstood to be limited to those aired or printed in the various forms of mediasuch as television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and internet, and excludesdiscussions, in public or in private, between and among ordinary citizens. TheConstitution simply gives the citizens the right to speech, not the right tounrestricted
speech.Comments on the merits of the case may refer to the credibility of witnesses,the character of the accused, the soundness of the alibis offered, the relevance of the evidence presented, and generally any other comment bearing on the guilt or innocence of the accused.
The danger posed by this class of speech is the undueinfluence it may directly exert on the court in the resolution of the criminal case, or indirectly through the public opinion it may generate against the accused and theadverse impact this public opinion may have during the trial. The significance of the
rule is highlighted in criminal cases, as the possibility of undueinfluence prejudices the accused’s right to a fair trial. “The principal purpose of the
rule is to preserve the impartiality of the judicial system by protecting it from undue influence.”
Public opinion has no place in a criminaltrial. We ruled that –
it is a traditional conviction of civilized society everywhere that courts and juries,in the decision of issues of fact and law should be immune from every extraneousinfluence;
that facts should be decided upon evidence produced in court; and