It was Jan. 2012 when Professor Kyu Ho Youm, a media law professor and the inaugural Jonathan Marshall First Amendment Chair at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC), presented his research on freedom of the press at a conference at Brigham Young University.
Youm’s intensive research process, which took a full year, included reaching out to a number of experts in Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil, South Korea and the Netherlands about televised international criminal court cases. At the end of the long process, Youm published a 42-page article titled “Cameras in the Courtroom in the Twenty-First Century: The U.S. Supreme Court Learning from Abroad?” in Brigham Young University Law Review.
According to Youm, the article looks at access to court proceedings from an international and comparative perspective. “It focuses on why and how the Supreme Court of the U.S. is different from those of England, Canada, and Brazil and from several international criminal courts and regional human rights,” he said.
After publication, Youm moved on to new research. Then, in January, Youm typed his name into a search engine. He was surprised when an article titled “Maybe This Time: Live media coverage and the Laude murder trial” came up on a Philippine news site InterAksyon. The article, by Marie Yuvienco, mentioned a citation within the Philippine Supreme Court from Youm’s BYU law article. It was the first time Youm had heard that his 2012 article had been cited.
The online article discusses the murder trial of a transgender Filipina, Jennifer Laude, who was murdered by a United States Marine, Joseph Scott Pemberton. Before going to trial, the Laude family petitioned to have the trial broadcast for the nation to watch. However, allowing media into the courtroom of a criminal case is against the law in the Philippines. The case eventually made its way to the Philippine Supreme Court, where they also ruled against the case.
The Philippine Supreme Court released a public notice on Jan. 15, 2015, stating its decision for the Laude case. Within the notice was a citation of a passage in Youm’s article stating:
The Supreme Court demonstrated indirectly but unmistakably that it has no inclination to broadcast its own proceedings. In early 2010, the Court by 5-4 vote barred a federal district court from broadcasting a trial in San Francisco that concerned Proposition 8, an amendment to the Constitution of California that outlawed same-sex marriage in California. In Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Court held that “without expressing any view on whether such trials should be broadcast,” the broadcast should be prohibited on the ground that the trial court failed to follow the appropriate judicial procedures under federal law relating to such broadcasting. The Court, citing Estes [Estes v. Texas], was concerned about the impact of broadcasting on witnesses. “Witness testimony may be chilled if broadcast,” the majority wrote. “It is difficult to demonstrate or analyze whether a witness would have testified differently if his or he testimony had not been broadcast. And witnesses subject to harassment as a result of broadcast of their testament might be lass likely to cooperate in any future proceedings.
According to Youm, the Philippine court’s citation is somewhat ironic, given that his article actually argues for allowing media presence in Supreme Court hearings.
“I’ve argued that the U.S. Supreme Court ought to learn from various foreign and international courts’ broadcasting-friendly experience,” Youm said. “The Philippine court’s citation may have derived from what they considered to be my up-to-date, comprehensive examination of the ban on cameras in U.S. federal courts. However, the Philippine Supreme Court judges might have remembered my passing statement in the conclusion of my law review article: ‘There is a slim chance that the risk-averse U.S. Supreme Court will open its courtroom to radio and television broadcasters in the near future.’”
Youm’s media law research has also been cited by the U.K. House of Lords, the Canadian Supreme Court and the Australian High Court.
Story by Nikki Kesaris ’18