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  1. #1

    Fair Trial - Impact of Media and Sunshine Laws on Trial Proceedings

    All morning I've been thinking about the concept of a fair trial, and wondering if the As lies and attempts to mislead in their depositions will indeed impact KC's right to a fair trial, which by definition is not where jury members believe the defendant is not guilty, but where jury members are neutral - they believe that the defendant is neither guilty nor not guilty, and are willing and able to listen to the evidence presented at trial and then come to a conclusion based only on that evidence.

    - What is the definition of a fair trial?

    - How much influence on the 'not guilty' or 'innocent' side is out there (from the defense attorneys, Anthony depositions etc, media)?

    - What are the consequences if a jury member votes Not Guilty, and/or is found to have been convinced prior to trial that KC is not guilty or innocent based on misinformation that came publicly from the Anthonys?

    - how could it be proven that a juror was already convinced of innocence by public statements made by the Anthony's before the trial. You'd have to prove they lied during voir dire?
    Last edited by Salem; 07-06-2011 at 12:57 PM. Reason: added question

  2. #2
    Definition of a Fair Trial: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_trial and more from wikipedia on right to a fair trial here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_a_fair_trial

    http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/pubs...fair_trial.pdf

    Fair Trials Manual from Amnesty International: http://www.amnestyusa.org/internatio....do?id=1104744

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeanE View Post
    All morning I've been thinking about the concept of a fair trial, and wondering if the As lies and attempts to mislead in their depositions will indeed impact KC's right to a fair trial, which by definition is not where jury members believe the defendant is not guilty, but where jury members are neutral - they believe that the defendant is neither guilty nor not guilty, and are willing and able to listen to the evidence presented at trial and then come to a conclusion based only on that evidence.

    - What is the definition of a fair trial?

    - How much influence on the 'not guilty' or 'innocent' side is out there (from the defense attorneys, Anthony depositions etc, media)?

    - What are the consequences if a jury member votes Not Guilty, and/or is found to have been convinced prior to trial that KC is not guilty or innocent based on misinformation that came publicly from the Anthonys?
    I don't have any answers, but I would like to add another question based on your last question:

    - how could it be proven that a juror was already convinced of innocence by public statements made by the Anthony's before the trial. You'd have to prove they lied during voir dire?

  4. #4
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    A fair and just trial might be impeded by:

    • Corruption or incompetence (judicial or otherwise)
    • Contempt of court (typically by the media or jurors)
    • Witness intimidation
    • A lack of legal counsel

  5. #5
    Requirements

    Conversely, a fair trial requires:

    - A competent, neutral and detached judge and (if applicable) jury
    - Uninfluenced witnesses
    - Ideally, a sufficient and equal amount of legal counsel for all parties


    (I'm thinking it's the competent, neutral, and detached jury where the Anthony's influence toward not guilty or innocent would come in.)

  6. #6
    What the heck is the contempt of court by the media? Violation of a gag order?

  7. #7
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    Amendment VI to the US Constitution:

    http://www.answers.com/topic/amendme...s-constitution

  8. #8
    LOL looks like I'm going to have to do a whole LOT of reading before I can competently discuss this!!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeanE View Post
    What the heck is the contempt of court by the media? Violation of a gag order?
    Although published in the UK could also happen here in the US>>> Here's an example:

    The Times and a jury foreman who spoke out against the verdict delivered by his jury will face prosecution after a successful application at the high court by the attorney general.

    Mike Seckerson was one of two jurors who dissented from the majority verdict in the case of Keran Henderson, a child minder convicted by 10 votes to two in 2007 for the manslaughter of 11-month-old Maeve Sheppard.

    Seckerson will now face prosecution for contempt of court along with the Times newspaper, which published an article in December 2007 revealing the jurors' views – quoted anonymously – that Henderson had been wrongly convicted of killing the child.


    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009...tempt-of-court

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeanE View Post
    LOL looks like I'm going to have to do a whole LOT of reading before I can competently discuss this!!
    I think we could all read up more... esp. those of us who are not legal experts.


  11. #11
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    Seems to me the more media coverage the more likely an appeal opportunity... but not necessarily. The jury selection process will be extremely important...

    A juror's impartiality may be compromised by sources outside the courtroom, such as the media. Jurors may not consider newspaper, television, and radio coverage before or during trial when evaluating the guilt or innocence of the defendant. Before trial, judges will take special care to filter out those jurors whose neutrality has been compromised by extensive media coverage. During trial, judges will instruct jurors to avoid exposing themselves to such extraneous sources. Exposure to information about the trial from an extraneous source, whether it is the media, a friend, or a family member, creates a presumption of prejudice to the defendant that can only be overcome by persuasive evidence that the juror can still render an impartial verdict (United States v. Rowley, 975 F.2d 1357 [8th Cir. 1992]). Failure to overcome this presumption will result in the reversal of any conviction.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexasLil View Post
    Although published in the UK could also happen here in the US>>> Here's an example:

    The Times and a jury foreman who spoke out against the verdict delivered by his jury will face prosecution after a successful application at the high court by the attorney general.

    Mike Seckerson was one of two jurors who dissented from the majority verdict in the case of Keran Henderson, a child minder convicted by 10 votes to two in 2007 for the manslaughter of 11-month-old Maeve Sheppard.

    Seckerson will now face prosecution for contempt of court along with the Times newspaper, which published an article in December 2007 revealing the jurors' views – quoted anonymously – that Henderson had been wrongly convicted of killing the child.


    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009...tempt-of-court
    Quoting myself to include that Contempt of Court acts are prevalent in foreign countries and not so in the US where freedom of the press is a published right... However, media coverage could impede on fair trial rights if potential tainted jurors are not eliminated during selection.

  13. #13
    Most of what I'm finding is about jurors beings influenced toward a guilty verdict. I did find this though, which is interesting:

    http://www.theeagle.com/local/Jury-p...-ex-A-M-player

    Jury pool tainted by parents of ex-A&M player

    An aggravated robbery trial involving former Texas A&M football player Yemi Babalola will be postponed after a judge dismissed the jury, saying the defendant’s parents spoke with some members before testimony began.
    A date has not yet been set, but a new jury will be picked in the felony case.


    Hope somebody keeps a close eye on the As and keeps them away from jurors and potential jurors. I can just see them doing something like this.

  14. #14
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    Interesting Read:

    Free Press vs. Fair Trials
    Book Challenges Media Influence on Trial Verdicts

    http://crime.about.com/od/issues/a/blosu041226.htm

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by TexasLil View Post
    Interesting Read:

    Free Press vs. Fair Trials
    Book Challenges Media Influence on Trial Verdicts

    http://crime.about.com/od/issues/a/blosu041226.htm

    Very interesting, TexasLil! Thank you!

    From the article:

    Loges is an assistant professor of new media communications and sociology at OSU; Bruschke is an associate professor of speech communication and co-director of the debate team at CSU-Fullerton. They trace their interest in the role of publicity on trials back to the O.J. Simpson case, when many blamed the media for the verdict.
    While Simpson was found not guilty, a majority of defendants in murder cases are convicted. And existing research seemed to validate the idea that pre-trial publicity influences outcomes, Loges said.

    "Then we looked at most of the research and found it lacking," he said. "Many of the studies involved college students in a class playing the role of a jury. They were not realistic studies; the evidence was often extremely prejudicial, and often these mock juries had no opportunity to deliberate. It was all too artificial. Jon and I believed that the best arguments about media influence start from observations of real trials."


    ETA:

    "We believe that the quality of evidence is the most important factor," Loges said. "We didn't evaluate the evidence in these 300 (murder) cases because that was too expensive. We looked at enough cases, however, that there should have been a disparity in guilty verdicts if pre-trial publicity really did have an impact. And if there was a direct correlation between media coverage and verdict, you should see a linear result. The more publicity cases get, the more guilty verdicts should be rendered. That simply didn't happen."

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