Every Picture Speaks a Thousand Words: Visualizing Judicial Authority in the Press

  • Leslie J Moran
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Socio-Legal Studies book series (PSLS)


Domestic policy debates in the UK have noted that mass media, and visual media in particular, play an important role in generating experiences and understandings about the courts and the justice system more generally (Hough and Roberts, 2004; Falconer, 2005; Moorhead et al., 2008; Stepniak, 2008; Lambert 2011). News and more factual reports delivered by way of print and screen technologies have been identified as a particularly important source of popular information (Page et al., 2004, p. 7).1 UK research on the interface between the news media and the justice system has been preoccupied with representations of crime, the depiction of perpetrators of crime and police image-making and image management activities (Cohen and Young, 1973; Chibnall, 1977; Schlesinger and Tumber, 1994; Mawby, 2002; Leishman and Mason, 2003). Studies of the depiction of the judiciary are most notable by their absence. This is a surprising omission. As Papke notes (2007), in common law legal systems the judge is a key figure in the justice system being a decision-maker who symbolizes and embodies some of its fundamental values and virtues such as impartiality, rule-based and substantive justice and legitimate authority. As few members of the public experience or learn about the judiciary from direct observation (Mulcahy, 2011, ch. 5), mass media potentially plays an important role in shaping perceptions and understandings of the judiciary and the justice system more generally. My particular research interest is visual images of the judiciary. In this chapter, the objective is to embark upon a preliminary exploration of visual images of the judiciary used in news reports in the press.


Justice System Visual Image News Story News Report Photographic Image 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anon (n.d.) Photoshot: The World of Photography on the Web TM, available at www.photoshot.com/pdfs/photoshot_about_us.pdf (accessed 30 April 2012)
  2. Anon (1993) ‘Leonard Clement Goldstone QC New Queen’s Counsel’, available at www.photoshot.com/view_image.jsp?img_id=1567518andsrch_keywords=Goldstone QCandsrch_numImages=57 (accessed 24 April 2012)Google Scholar
  3. Anon (2002) ‘Judge Goldstone QC’, available at www.photoshot.com/view_image.jsp?img_id=1569520andsrch_keywords =Judge Goldstone QCandsrch_ numImages=12 (accessed 24 April 2012)Google Scholar
  4. Barnhurst, K G and J Nerone (2001) The Form of News: A History ( New York: Guilford Press )Google Scholar
  5. Chibnall, S (1977) Law and Order News: An Analysis of Crime Reporting in the British Press ( London: Tavistock Publications )Google Scholar
  6. Church, M (2006) ‘Introduction’ in M Church and L Young, The Art of Justice: An Eyewitness View of Thirty Infamous Trials ( Philadelphia: Quirk Books ), pp. 7–9Google Scholar
  7. Clover, C (1998) ‘Movie Juries’ 48 De Paul Law Review 389–406Google Scholar
  8. Cohen, S and J Young (1973) The Manufacture of News: Deviance, Social Problems and the Media ( London: Constable )Google Scholar
  9. Coleman, P and P Cheston (2010) Court Scenes: The Court Art of Priscilla Coleman (London: Wildy, Simmonds and Hill Publishing )Google Scholar
  10. Davis, R (1994) Decisions and Images: The Supreme Court and the Press ( Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall )Google Scholar
  11. Domke, D, D Perlmutter and M Spratt (2002) ‘The Prime of our Times? An Examination of the “Power” of Visual Images’ 3(2) Journalism 131–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Falconer, Lord (2005) ‘Introduction’, Broadcasting Courts Seminar 10 January 2005 ( London: Department of Constitutional Affairs ) www.dca.gov.ac.uk/ consult/courts/seminar.htm (accessed 24 January 2011)Google Scholar
  13. Genn, H (1999) Paths to Justice: What People Do and Think about Going to Law, ( Oxford: Hart Publishing )Google Scholar
  14. Genn, H (2009) Judging Civil Justice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gregory, P (2005) Court Reporting in Australia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hale, B (2009a) ‘Let My Little Boy Die’, Daily Mail, 3 November 2009, available at www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1224486/Baby-RB-Tug-love-babysmother-says-life-support-turned-father-goes-court-stop-it.html (accessed 24 April 2012)Google Scholar
  17. Hale, B (2009b) ‘Goodbye, My Beloved Son: Father Gives up Court Battle to Keep his Disabled Boy Alive’, Daily Mail, available at www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1226451/Mothers-views-childs-care-outweighs-fathersays-senior-paediatrician.html (accessed 24 April 2012)Google Scholar
  18. Haywood, L (2009) ‘Mum: It is Cruel to Keep our Tot Alive’, The Sun, 3 November 2009, available at www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2711087/Agony-of-mu m-in-battle-to-turn- off-babys-life-supp ortmachine.html (accessed 24 April 2012)Google Scholar
  19. Hough, M and J V Roberts (2004) Confidence in Justice: An International Review, ICRP Research Paper No 3 ( London: Institute for Criminal Policy Research )Google Scholar
  20. Huxford, J (2001) ‘Beyond the Referential: Uses of Visual Symbolism in the Press’ 2(1) Journalism 45–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jones, S (2009) ‘Parents Clash in Court over Taking Child off Life Support’, The Guardian, 3 November 2009, available at www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/nov/02/parents-court-clash-over-child (accessed 24 April 2012)Google Scholar
  22. Lambert, P (2011) Courting Publicity: Twitter and Television Cameras in Court ( London: Bloomsbury )Google Scholar
  23. Leishman, F and P Mason (2003) Policing and the Media: Facts, Fictions and Factions ( London: Willan Cullompton )Google Scholar
  24. Mawby, R (2002) Policing Images: Policing Communication and Legitimacy ( London: Willan Cullompton )Google Scholar
  25. Moorhead, R, M Sefton and L Scanlan (2008) ‘Just Satisfaction? What Drives Public and Participant Satisfaction with Courts and Tribunals’ in Research Series 5 /08 ( London: Ministry of Justice )Google Scholar
  26. Moran, L J (2008a) ‘Projecting the Judge: A Case Study in the Cultural Lives of the Judiciary’ in A Sarat (ed.), Law and Film: Essays on the State of the Field, special edn, 46 Studies in Law, Politics and Society 1–24Google Scholar
  27. Moran, L J (2008b), ‘Judicial Bodies as Sexual Bodies: A Tale of Two Portraits’ 29 Australian Feminist Law Journal 91–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Moran, L J (2009) ‘Judging Pictures: A Case Study of Portraits of the Chief Justices Supreme Court New South Wales’ 5(3) International Journal of Law 61–80Google Scholar
  29. Moran, L J (2010) ‘Walking Here Between the Past and the Future: A Review Essay’ 8(2) Entertainment and Sports Law Journal, available at www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/eslj/issues/volume8/number2/moran/ (accessed 24 April 2012)Google Scholar
  30. Moran, L J (2012) ‘Legal Studies after the Cultural Turn: A Case Study of Judicial Research’ in S Roseneil and S Frosh (eds), Social Research after the Cultural Turn ( London: Palgrave Macmillan )Google Scholar
  31. Moran, L J, B Skeggs and R Herz (2010) ‘Ruth Herz Judge Playing Judge Ruth Herz: Reflections on the Performance of Judicial Authority’ 14 Law, Text, Culture 198–220Google Scholar
  32. Mulcahy, L (2011) Legal Architecture: Justice, Due Process and the Place of Law ( London: Routledge )Google Scholar
  33. Nead, L (2002) ‘Visual Cultures of the Courtroom: Reflections on History, Law and the Image’ 3(2) Visual Culture in Britain 119–41Google Scholar
  34. Narain, J (2009) ‘Mother Who Forced her Girls to Marry is Jailed’, Daily Mail, 22 May 2009, available at www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1185589/ Muslim-mother-forced-school-age-daughters-marry- cousins -j ailed-3- years.html (accessed 24 April 2012)Google Scholar
  35. Newton, J (2008) The Burden of Visual Truth: The Role of Photojournalism in Mediating Reality ( New York: Routledge )Google Scholar
  36. O’Neill, S (2007) ‘Top Judge Arrested over “Flashing on Train”’, The Times, 22 January 2007Google Scholar
  37. Page, B, R Wake and A Ames (2004) ‘Public Confidence in the Criminal Justice System’, Home Office Findings 221 ( London: Home Office )Google Scholar
  38. Papke, D R (2007) ‘From Flat to Round: Changing Portrayals of the Judge in American Popular Culture’ 31 Journal of the Legal Profession 127–51Google Scholar
  39. Rubin, G (2008) ‘Seddon, Dell and Rock and Roll: Investigating Alleged Breaches on the Ban on Publishing Photographs Taken within Courts or their Precincts, 1925–1967’ Criminal Law Review 874–87Google Scholar
  40. Schlesinger, P and H Tumber (1994) Reporting Crime: The Media Politics of Criminal Justice ( Oxford: Clarendon )Google Scholar
  41. Stepniak, D (2008) Audio-visual Coverage of Courts: A Comparative Analysis ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press )CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tagg, J (1998) The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories ( Basingstoke: Macmillan )Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Leslie J Moran 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leslie J Moran

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations