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In An Age Of Universal Deceit, Telling The Truth Is A Revolutionary Act.......George Orwell

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Courtly Conduct Before Juries

We've been hearing a lot abut jury trials in the news, lately. We also, on a semi-regular basis, hear a lot about the press, social media, and the first amendment. But does anyone truly understand the sanctity of a jury decision, and the purpose of the protections of the same, both before and after the decision is rendered? Apparently, there is some misunderstanding, as a rather high profile case, that of the murder trial of Aaron Hernandez, ran a risk of dismissal shortly before the trial concluded because a reporter chased a vehicle transporting members of a seated jury in order to obtain pictures, names, and interviews!

What part of "do not sway, taint, or influence a jury" do these reporters not understand? Can they not see that when a defendant invokes his right to a jury trial, all involved parties count on an impartial jury? Before the jury has rendered a decision, this kind of crap can easily bias the jury and rob the defendant of his right to a fair trial. This is why judges are often obliged to invoke orders against discussion about cases by any involved party during trials. How can the court be sure that the jury was not responding to threats or bribes when deliberating the case if others have taken the liberties of influencing jury panels via outside conversation? This can lead to mistrials, miscarriages of justice, and convictions of innocent people.

One more thing this reporter attempted to do that was completely unwise was an attempt to photograph the jury while they were commuting to and from the courthouse. This was the reporter's excuse, as a matter of fact. He thought that merely snapping a picture of jury members was appropriate. He had not considered what might have happened if someone, somewhere had been dissatisfied with the verdict, and decided to use the information and pictures provided by the media in an attempt to gain some sort of vengeance on any member of the jury who could be identified. It seems that, thanks to social media and peer pressure in general, there is already enough temptation to "go with the flow" and do what everyone else is doing, and never do one's own thinking. In court, a jury is depended upon to depart from peer pressure and make it's decision as individuals, looking critically at the facts, not public opinion. Why should the media interfere with this process?

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