According to the Wikipedia article on Tom Howard (the photographer who famously took a picture of Ruth Snyder's 1928 execution), photographers are banned from U.S. executions (the state of New York unsuccessfully attempted to prosecute Howard and the newspaper he took the photograph on behalf of); why is this so?

  • My guess is that some law was passed and upheld under the auspice that it is deleterious to the public to expose them to such events. And also that to invite them in is to invite them to make a spectacle and public event of it, which is not what the event is supposed to be. But I don't know any facts to back that up. I'm actually a tad surprised this got migrated from Law.SE, but maybe that's an implicit endorsement of this being a mostly political assertion of moral good rather than anything specifically legal. But that's another uncorroborated guess. – zibadawa timmy Jun 29 '17 at 1:30
  • I would bet it was somehow argued on the bases of VIII Amendment – user4012 Jun 29 '17 at 12:58

Existing case law on this issue is readily available via Lawson v Dixon in North Carolina and Garrett v Estelle in Texas. In this case, and in most states, the legal authority lies with the Warden to maintain "the supervision and control" of the prison.

"...plaintiffs David Lawson, Phillip J. Donahue, and James Arnold do not have a right under either the First or Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution or under Article 1, Section 14 of the North Carolina Constitution to audiotape or videotape plaintiff Lawson's scheduled execution, see Houchins v. KQED, Inc., 438 U.S. 1, 57 L.Ed.2d 553 (1978); Pell v. Procunier, 417 U.S. 817, 41 L.Ed.2d 495 (1974); Saxbe v. Washington Post Co., 417 U.S. 843, 41 L.Ed.2d 514 (1974); Garrett v. Estelle, 556 F.2d 1274 (5th Cir. 1977); that under N.C.G.S. 15-190 the execution is under the supervision and control of Warden Dixon; and that, as a matter of law, neither Secretary Freeman nor Warden Dixon can be mandamused to permit the requested audiotaping or videotaping;"

Lawson v. Dixon, 336 N.C. 312, (N.C. 1994)

As the quote above states, also explore the cited case law:

  • 1
    For the curious, mandamused is an actual (legal) word. – zibadawa timmy Jun 30 '17 at 22:15
  • I'm not a lawyer and don't even play one on the Internet, so thanks for the addition to my limited bank of knowledge on legal terminology! – LearnWorkLearn Jul 1 '17 at 0:27

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