M4D2: Trial by Media
“If It Doesn’t Fit, You Must Acquit!” – Remark by the defense counsel for O.J. Simpson.
One of the most celebrated trials in the media was the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial in which the prosecution reveled over the “hard evidence” they were waiting to introduce: the blood-soaked gloves found at the crime scene; however, when the defendant (O.J. Simpson) attempted to put the gloves on, they were TOO SMALL. Thus, the defense counsel uttered the famous quip, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” Similarly, not since the O.J. Simpson case has more media attention been showered upon a defendant than in the Casey Anthony murder trial.
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Most states allow news crews to cover court cases; however, pre-trial publicity (i.e., trial by the media), viewed by millions within the privacy of their homes, has many legal experts charging that the camera (i.e., “TV trials”) is getting in the way of court proceedings and jury deliberations. Some critics argue that victims are often tried in the court of public opinion; others argue media has turned justice into a voyeuristic peep show. Some criminal defense attorneys, who represent some of the most notorious defendants in the country, claim that the public verdict permeates all levels of the criminal justice system. Conversely, some studies evince that pre-trial publicity and ongoing media coverage have little or no influence on the final verdict but may impact more on the sentencing phase of a trial.
Before responding to the discussion question:
View the video, Trial Interference by Media? (Links to an external site.) [Video File][04 Min 08 Sec]
How effective is an appeal that argues media coverage interfered with justice? Crime, justice, and television will have to live together for a long time. Dershowitz argues that the First Amendment is the governing principle of American society.
After reading the assignments and lectures and viewing the PowerPoint presentations and the video above, you have a better understanding of the controversies surrounding the media coverage of criminal trials. For this discussion address the following topic:
Discuss the role, rights, and impact the media have in criminal trials. Provide an example, other than the O.J. Simpson or Casey Anthony cases, and discuss what impact the media had on the example you chose.
After your initial post, read and reply to at least TWO other postings made by your classmates with substantial responses that further the discussions. Remember to read and reply to questions from your instructor.
Keep the following in mind when making your posts to the discussion area:
Did you complete all of the elements required in your initial discussion post?
Did you respond to the initial posts of at least two of your fellow students?
Did you acknowledge those who responded to you, including questions from your instructor?
Were all of your posts made on time? That is, was your initial post made before Midnight Eastern Time on Thursday, and were your follow-up posts made before Midnight Eastern Time on Sunday.
Consult the Discussion Posting Guide for information about writing your discussion posts. It is recommended that you write your post in a document first. Check your work and correct any spelling or grammatical errors.
This is a “post first” discussion forum, which means you must submit your initial post before you can view other students’ posts.
When you are ready to make your initial post, click on “Reply.” Then copy/paste the text into the message field, and click “Post Reply.”
To respond to a peer, click “Reply” beneath her or his post and continue as with an initial post.
This discussion will be graded using the SPS Default Discussion Rubric. Please review this rubric, located on the Rubrics page within the Start Here module of the course, prior to beginning your work to ensure your participation meets the criteria in place for this discussion. All discussions combined are worth 20% of your final course grade.
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