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Homework answers / question archive / CJ101: INTRODUCTION TO CRIMINAL JUSTICE M4D2: Trial by Media “If It Doesn’t Fit, You Must Acquit!” – Remark by the defense counsel for O

CJ101: INTRODUCTION TO CRIMINAL JUSTICE M4D2: Trial by Media “If It Doesn’t Fit, You Must Acquit!” – Remark by the defense counsel for O

Sociology

CJ101: INTRODUCTION TO CRIMINAL JUSTICE

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.

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:

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.

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