Free Pretrial Publicity Essay Sample
The sixth amendment of the U.S constitution guarantees a defendant the right to a free trial by a legal court thus the right of the media to publish information pertaining to a defendant is also guaranteed in the First Amendment of the constitution. Though the two constitutional rights safeguard both parties, there is creation of conflict as pretrial publicity acts as a factor that is likely able to prevent the defendant from being granted Justice.
Evidence as per research indicates that the exposure towards pretrial publicity increases the chances that most of the jurors will mostly convict the accused. This indication shows that
Examples of stories that provide information on pretrial publicity are as follows:
William Kennedy Smith Trial
In the William Kennedy Smith trial, he is faced with charges of rape which were done against the wishes of a young woman. Few minutes into the hearing of the case, there is media overflow which is conveyed as news about his alleged crime. This is triggered by the media as it talks of the accuser's past accusations on sexual misconducts.
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This in turn raises eyebrows as questions are put forward over whether the jurors' decision on the accused will turn out as free and fair. The sensational publicity towards a criminal defendant is considered to affect the process of jurors to come up with an impartial judgment.
Due to this, the case is postponed for the jurors to so as to come up with a verdict that suits the accused. With the spread of the news at hand, the clarity of the verdict will take certain factors into consideration; first, the decision made by the prosecutors will determine how they view the accused and the leniency they have towards the accused and secondly, as the public is now aware of the accusation made towards the accused through the media, they would want to see to it that a tougher judgment is made by the prosecutors to the accused.
This idea violates the guilt of the innocence of the accused as though he is said to commit rape, speculation over his past life which might at some point not be true will probably lead to his prosecution thus the prosecutor will have to do this not because he needs to do it but with a reason to impress the public over the allegations made towards the accused.
This will deny the accused any form of justice as the stories related to him will have given the jurors and the public at large a negative impression about his past deeds. This in turn will lead to his sentencing. As the accuser has no options at the moment, he/she is faced with no chances other than to heed to the decision made.
Sokou Oronde Hunter Trial
Hunter is faced with accusation of killing her neighbor through shooting her. The accused has been to court but verdict has not been reached as accusations about her state that her life has been marred with cases of domestic violence. This has been as a result of pre trial publicities on issues raised against the accused.
Affidavit information indicates that the children who were in a separate room from where the killings took place told investigators that they overheard Hunter and the other occupant (Natalie Davis) arguing before the shootings. Other information indicate that the witnesses present said that Davis tried to flee for her life but could not make it as the accused caught up with her and shot her several times at close range thus leading to the death of Natalie Davis.
These claims were brought forward during Hunter's trial, thus giving the jurors a hard time in the proclamation of any sentence. The evidence in this case violates the American Bar Association as the jurors might end up sentencing the accused with an aim of giving Natalie's family some breathing space as a result of justice granted.
As the case is still pending in court, it is inevitable that the accused receives a free and fair process of justice. Evidence against the accuser should be keenly taken into consideration while other forms of rulings are adhered to. This will contribute largely to the decisions made by the jurors.
Monica Lewinsky Trial
Monica Lewinsky's trial on the sexual affairs with then President Bill Clinton was marred with total publicity as she worked in the Whitehouse as an intern. The affairs led to negative repercussions with Bill Clinton being impeached hence the scandal acquired the name "the Lewinsky Scandal".
The scandal was brought into the limelight when news was out that Clinton had had sexual relationships with Monica. Clinton disclaimed this accusation thus attending a grand jury where he testified through means of a televised circuit thus Monica had to appear before the jury in person so as to testify.
In this case, the prosecutors might have given their judgment in favor of the president as he is a National image and tarnishing his image would sound awkward. The courts are supposed to deliberate and give proper judgment, some instance are marked with unfair verdicts.
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The charges of misdemeanor made against Clinton gave the public a negative image about the person who was serving them in the white house. Though the prosecutors gave no sentence, evidence at times violates the American Bar Association opinions of the accused.
Timothy McVeigh Trial
In his trial, it is reported that the accused faces other charges of terrorist acts which include murder and being in possession of explosives. This at first led to the struggle of choosing of unbiased jurors who could deliver proper and fair judgment against the accused. According to news publicity, the jurors in the case had a hard time in ruling out the case as the public was duly aware of the misconducts committed by the accused.
As a result of this, the prosecutors and jurors had to rethink on the best judgment that would be given to a person of such nature as the publics demands were that justice be fair. An attorney of the accused asked the jury to have the case dismissed as the news broadcasted on TV would change their views on the bombings hence fail to reach an impartial judgment.
The case was marred with controversy as the government involvement was seen to have the juror impose a death penalty on the accused for bombing a building, killing and injuring people. This later led to a standoff in the case as jurors had to discuss on the matter with an aim of declaring a fair decision against the accused.
Pretrial publicity can positively or negatively change the views of the jurors' panel depending on evidence given. This may act as an unfair decision against the accused at sometime as he/she may end up being denied fair trial. The process needs a rethink of ideas shared out before a verdict is given hence the practice of justice is observed.