The First Amendment of our Constitution includes the right to listen. The public has a right to access open court proceedings. In Scott’s case, there was a daily lottery for the members of the public to obtain a seat in the courtroom. There were very few seats available to the public, as the press also has a First Amendment right and the majority of seats were allocated to media.
Scott’s appellate brief states, “The Peterson trial generated an extraordinary amount of publicity. The trial judge noted that he had never seen anything like this case, and the prosecution itself conceded that this case generated more publicity then even the O.J. Simpson case.” The whole world was watching.
Given that the court proceedings were not televised, the public was left to watch media coverage. During the trial, many members of the media took their First Amendment privilege lightly and did not accurately communicate the testimony. The headlines often did not match what was occurring in the courtroom, so our family approached the court reporters for Scott’s trial to see if there was a way we could share the transcripts with the public. Certainly our family walking out of the courthouse everyday saying Scott was innocent wasn’t getting us very far, but we felt sharing the transcripts could add credibility to what we were saying. The court reporters agreed to give our family a paper copy of the daily transcripts for a flat fee of $50 a day ($5,000 over the course of the trial), but we would not be able to post the transcripts on the internet. Given that we couldn’t share them, we did not accept the offer.
Fortunately, there was a group of interested people from all across the country that followed Scott’s case and they wanted access to the transcripts. They had varying opinions on Scott’s guilt, but one thing they had in common is they all wanted to read it for themselves. They found each other on-line and pooled together and purchased a copy of the trial transcripts. Countless hours were spent reformatting them so they could be shared, as the content is not copyright protected, only the format. Once reformatted they were able to post the transcripts on-line.
At the end of the trial, Scott was convicted. Our family was devastated. We’d lost Laci and Conner and now Scott was being sent to death row. We did not know what to do. There were so many public misconceptions about the case. So many untruths. Much of which was perpetuated by the media. People thought Scott had fled. People thought Scott and Laci were in financial trouble. People thought Scott was lying about the events of December 24th. People thought Laci didn’t know about Scott’s boat. All incorrect. These and other untruths led to the biggest misconception – that Scott was guilty.
We decided to address one misconception at a time on ScottPetersonAppeal.org. These reformatted transcripts not only helped us to do the necessary research for our articles, but they are available in case you want to read something for yourself. We are fortunate and grateful to have this privilege.
To read transcripts or appellate filings, visit http://www.scottpetersonappeal.org/court-docs.html