February 25, 2000 - Connecticut Voters Say 2-1 Skakel Trial Should Be Open, Quinnipiac College Poll Finds; Most Want Reporters In Court, But Not TV Cameras
By a 2 - 1 margin, Connecticut voters who have heard or read about the trial of Michael Skakel, charged in the 1975 death of Martha Moxley, say the trial should be open to the public, according to a Quinnipiac College Poll released today.

Eighty-nine percent of Connecticut voters say they have heard or read something about the trial. Of that group, 60 percent say the trial should be open to the public, while 32 percent say it should be closed.

Those who know about the case say 68 - 26 percent that newspaper reporters should be allowed in the courtroom. These same people who know of the case say 63 - 32 percent that television cameras should not be allowed in the courtroom for this case.

"The fact that 89 percent of the people polled recalled reading or hearing something about the trial seems to confirm what the media have known all along, that this trial is a big news story," said William Dunlap, a professor in the Quinnipiac College School of Law.

"More than twice as many people think this trial in juvenile court should be open to the public than think it should be closed. Do those who want it open think that juvenile proceedings in general should be open to the public? Or are they recognizing that this is not a typical juvenile case, and that the reasons for protecting juvenile defendants from the glare of publicity do not necessarily apply when the defendant is 39 years old and already well known to the public?"

"It is interesting that twice as many people favor admitting newspaper reporters as favor excluding them, but the figures are reversed for television cameras -- twice as many favor excluding them. Since almost everyone who favors admitting cameras would also favor admitting reporters, it means that one-third of the public makes a distinction and favors admitting reporters but excluding cameras," Dunlap said.

"This must mean that they believe the public is entitled to the information, to know what is going on in the courtroom, but that cameras are somehow too intrusive in the judicial process. I suspect that this goes back to the O.J. Simpson criminal trial, where lawyers and witnesses on both sides were suspected of playing to the cameras in an effort to shape public opinion, instead of focusing exclusively on decision makers in the courtroom. Many judges have expressed similar grave concerns about the ability of courtroom cameras not just to report but to affect what happens in the courtroom."

From February 9 - 15, Quinnipiac College surveyed 1,365 Connecticut voters, with a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percent. The Quinnipiac College Poll conducts public opinion surveys in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as a public service and for research. For additional data -- www.quinnipiac.edu

43. Have you heard or read anything about the trial of Michael Skakel, charged in the 1975 murder of Greenwich teen Martha Moxley?

                                     Tot 


Yes 89%

No 10

DK/NA 1



44. (If heard about trial) Skakel, now 39 years old, is currently having his case heard in juvenile court because he was 15 at the time Martha Moxley was killed. Juvenile court proceedings are ordinarily closed to the public. Do you think the public should or should not be allowed in the courtroom for this case?
                               Heard about trial 


Should be 60%

Should not be 32

DK/NA 7



45. (If heard about trial) Do you think newspaper reporters should or should not be allowed in the courtroom for this case?

                               Heard about trial 




Should be 68%

Should not be 26

DK/NA 5



46. (If heard about trial) Do you think television cameras should or should not be allowed in the courtroom for this case?

                               Heard about trial 


Should be 32%

Should not be 63

DK/NA 5