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Jim Halsey Co. v. Bonar

Supreme Court of Arkansas
Apr 15, 1985
284 Ark. 461 (Ark. 1985)

Summary

In Jim Halsey Co. v. Bonar, 284 Ark. 461, 683 S.W.2d 898 (1985), the Arkansas Supreme Court stated that proof of future profits requires "a reasonably complete set of figures, and [the complaining party must] not leave the jury to speculate as to whether there could have been any profits."

Summary of this case from Finley v. River North Entertainment

Opinion


688 S.W.2d 275 (Ark. 1985) 284 Ark. 461 JIM HALSEY CO., INC., Appellant, v. Chet BONAR, Appellee. No. 84-180. Supreme Court of Arkansas. April 15, 1985.

        No brief, for appellant.

        No brief, for appellee.

[284 Ark. 473-A] SUPPLEMENTAL OPINION ON DENIAL OF REHEARING.

        HOLT, Chief Justice.

        The trial court committed error by permitting broadcasting of a certain portion of the trial proceedings in violation of Canon 3, Code of Judicial Conduct. When an objection was made at the beginning of trial, the judge ruled that he would allow the cameras in, but he stated, "if it becomes distracting to anyone, they should raise an objection at that time and I'll take care of it at that time". Subsequently there were [284 Ark. 473-B] no objections. We unanimously held that the appellant acquiesced in the trial court's ruling by failing to make further objections during the course of the trial and that in this instance, the error was rendered harmless. We further advised the bench and bar that they should be on notice that this court will closely scrutinize any further violations of this rule. 284 Ark. 461, 683 S.W.2d 898.

        On rehearing some of our members have changed their minds and now think that violation of this rule mandates reversible error, without exception.         The majority is deeply concerned over the trial court's obvious violation of Canon 3 which reads in pertinent part: "(b) an objection timely made by a party or attorney shall preclude broadcasting ... of the proceedings; and an objection timely made by a witness who has been informed of the right to refuse such exposure, shall preclude broadcasting."

        Although the rule also vests in the trial judge the right to make the final decision as to "whether it would be fitting and proper to permit photographing and recording of the trial proceedings", Re: Petition of Arkansas Bar Association, 271 Ark. 358, 361, 609 S.W.2d 28, the trial court is without discretion when timely objection is made. In this instance, the appellant made timely objection.

        It is the opinion of the majority that the warning contained in Ford v. State, 276 Ark. 98, 633 S.W.2d 3 (1982), where we said:

[a] willful disobedience of this Canon would, no doubt, be dealt with in an appropriate manner which could go so far as to cause a retrial of the case or result in other action by this court

        does not mandate automatic reversal. Had the record in this case hinted of any prejudice to the appellant by the presence of cameras within the courtroom, reversal would be in order. Absent any prejudice, to reverse and remand as punishment to the trial court would not justify the time and expense for all parties and the court system to relitigate this matter.

        [284 Ark. 473-C] We have repeatedly said that a mistrial is a drastic remedy, only to be granted when no other remedy exists. L.L. Coles&sSon, Inc. v. Hickman, 282 Ark. 6, 665 S.W.2d 278 (1984). That is a fair standard to apply to our decision. No longer is error presumed to be prejudicial. A litigant is entitled to a fair trial--not a perfect one. Berna v. State, 282 Ark. 563, 670 S.W.2d 434 (1984). Here, justice has been done.

        In our initial opinion we placed the bench and bar on notice that we would closely scrutinize further violations of this rule. In light of the present attitude of the court, we think it is safe to say this supplemental opinion shall constitute notice that further violation of this rule will not be tolerated to any degree, and that reversal may well be automatic, rather than a matter of scrutiny for possible prejudice.

        Rehearing denied.

        HAYS and HICKMAN, JJ., concur.

        PURTLE, DUDLEY and NEWBERN, JJ., would grant.

        HAYS, Justice, concurring.

        Before we take a hard line on the enforcement of the rule pertaining to cameras in the courtroom, we ought to examine the rule itself, now in its fifth year, to see if some relaxation is in order. A rule that requires the approval of opposing litigants is almost no rule at all, as experience teaches that adversaries in a lawsuit rarely agree on anything.

        An overwhelming number of states have sensibly left the decision regarding cameras where it should be, subject to the discretion of the trial judge. (See Journal of the National Center for State Courts, Volume 9, No. 1, p. 5, for a list of some forty states permitting media coverage and the six states requiring the approval of both parties). We ought to consider joining the majority, at least with respect to civil trials.

        HICKMAN, J., agrees.

        [284 Ark. 473-D] NEWBERN, Justice, dissenting.

        Rehearing should be granted. I was uncomfortable from the outset with the approach taken by our decision on the point of courtroom television. The essence of our opinion was that it was not reversible error to allow television photography in the courtroom after a timely objection but that it should never again be allowed. While I can appreciate an opinion which warns we may someday change a rule, I cannot appreciate an opinion saying we may someday enforce a rule.         The petition for rehearing made me wish I had dissented to the opinion. The petition correctly points out that a lawyer ought not be required to object more than once to a clear prospective violation of a rule, especially when the rule says a timely objection is all that is required. I am troubled by the fact that the colloquy between counsel and the court which was the entire basis of the appellant's argument on this point was not abstracted. However, as the objection and the court's ruling are recounted in the arguments in both parties' briefs, as well as in our opinion, I will not be dissuaded by that lapse from expressing my concern.

        According to the briefs of both parties, counsel for the appellant objected on the morning the trial began to having the trial televised. Rather than keep the trial from being televised, the judge invited counsel to object again if the cameras became distracting.

        The original modification of Canon 3(A)(7) of the Code of Judicial Conduct permitted broadcasting and photographing certain court proceedings upon written consent of all participating attorneys, parties and witnesses. Re: Petition of Arkansas Bar Association, 271 Ark. 358, 609 S.W.2d 28 (1980). The Canon was modified again to permit these activities unless there is "an objection timely made by a party or attorney...." The sole reason given for this modification was that it was "too burdensome to the trial court and to the interested people to require written consent." Re: Modification of the Code of Judicial Conduct Relating to Broadcastings&sPhotographing Court Proceedings, 275 Ark. 495, 628 S.W.2d 573 (1982). As this change [284 Ark. 473-E] was made solely to solve the administrative problem mentioned, it did nothing to alter the spirit of the previous per curiam order on the subject which was very protective of trial participants while attempting also to secure the rights and needs of the press and the public.

        The majority seems satisfied with the fact that our opinion gives a warning to trial judges that we will not permit them to admit television cameras over objection in the future. How many times must we give that warning? In Ford v. State, 276 Ark. 98, 633 S.W.2d 3 (1982), a criminal case, we said,

Canon 3(A)(7) of the Code of Judicial Conduct prevents cameras in the courtroom without the consent of the accused ... Our rule has been somewhat relaxed since the date of this trial. The rule was not placed into effect to be ignored by the courts.

***

A willful disobedience of this Canon would, no doubt, be dealt with in an appropriate manner which could go so far as to cause a retrial of the case or result in other action by this court. (276 rk. at 111-112; 633 S.W.2d at 11)

        We went to the trouble of expressing our feelings that strongly in a case in which no objection was made until the trial was over except for the sentencing phase. We should be much more concerned here where the objection was indeed timely, but all we do is issue another warning.

        The supplemental opinion of the majority points out that the case has been tried and a result reached which we should not overturn because the "time and expense for all parties and the court system" would be unjustified. The appellant's position is ignored in this assessment. If we refused to reverse because of those considerations, the need for this court would vanish.

        In our original opinion we said the appellant's counsel [284 Ark. 473-F] had acquiesced in the ruling of the court. The next sentence said "[i]n this instance the error was rendered harmless." In the supplemental opinion the majority seems to be saying the appellant must demonstrate "prejudice." The shift in rationale is subtle but needs to be dealt with.

        A litigant denied a public trial need show no prejudice for reversal. Sirratt v. State, 240 Ark. 47, 398 S.W.2d 63 (1966). See also Taylor v. State, 284 Ark. 103, 679 S.W.2d 797 (1984). Neither should a litigant who has objected to cameras in the courtroom have to show prejudice. Counsel, having made an objection, should not be put in the position of having constantly to observe for distractions caused to jurors, witnesses and the court by the presence of television cameras. Counsel should be allowed to devote his or her entire effort to the presentation of the client's case. The record here showed that jurors watched news reports of the trial. We cannot know what prejudice may have been caused. The point is that the rule requires automatic exclusion upon objection so that counsel will not later be placed in the position of finding and urging "prejudice" which is so obviously elusive in this context.

        In KARK-TV Channel 4, Inc. v. Lofton, 277 Ark. 228, 640 S.W.2d 798 (1982), we expressed the balance struck by the U.S. Supreme Court, and followed by us, between the protection of litigants and the judicial system vis a vis the protection of the rights of the press and public to information generated by trials. I believe the path has been well charted, and I do not believe we should vary from it. If we do, it should be by consciously taking a new direction and not through the odious process of erosion which will result from violations, warnings and then more violations and more warnings.

        I respectfully dissent from the refusal to grant rehearing. I would grant rehearing and remand for a new trial.

        DUDLEY and PURTLE, JJ., join in this dissent.

Summaries of

Jim Halsey Co. v. Bonar

Supreme Court of Arkansas
Apr 15, 1985
284 Ark. 461 (Ark. 1985)

In Jim Halsey Co. v. Bonar, 284 Ark. 461, 683 S.W.2d 898 (1985), the Arkansas Supreme Court stated that proof of future profits requires "a reasonably complete set of figures, and [the complaining party must] not leave the jury to speculate as to whether there could have been any profits."

Summary of this case from Finley v. River North Entertainment

In Jim Halsey Co. v. Bonar, 284 Ark. 461, 683 S.W.2d 898 (1985), Jim Halsey Co. objected to the use of cameras, but the trial court allowed them so long as they did not become distracting.

Summary of this case from Smith v. State

indicating if the requirements of Rule 15(c) are met, there can be no statute of limitations objection without proof of prejudice

Summary of this case from Southwestern Bell Tel. Co. v. Blastech

In Jim Halsey Co. v. Bonar, 284 Ark. 461, 683 S.W.2d 898 (1985), our supreme court determined that cases which present questions in the law of torts are not subject to resolution by arbitration.

Summary of this case from McLeroy v. Waller
Case details for

Jim Halsey Co. v. Bonar

Case Details

Full title:JIM HALSEY CO., INC. v. Chet BONAR

Court:Supreme Court of Arkansas

Date published: Apr 15, 1985

Citations

284 Ark. 461 (Ark. 1985)
284 Ark. 461
683 S.W.2d 898

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