Visions of the Trial: Courts and Visual Culture
Leslie J Moran (Birkbeck)
Watching the judiciary
From the 18th century surveillance of the judiciary has been a preoccupation of those seeking to ensure that justice is not only done but is seen to be done. If in the past this scrutiny was undertaken in the published text of the judgment and the space of the courtroom since at least the end of the 19th century the press have also played a major role. From the 1920’s this has been performed under a general prohibition banning camera technology from the courtroom. This prohibition is often interpreted as bringing to an end the role of visual images in bringing the courts and judiciary to account. This paper challenges that assumption and explores the role visual images have played in judicial scrutiny under this regime of visual censorship. It is based upon a study of contemporary English press reports that use visual images in reports of court and judicial activity. The analysis is undertaken with an eye on the wider visual cultural profile of the judiciary.