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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 16, 2013/ 9 Menachem-Av, 5773

TV on Trial

By Peter Funt








http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | George Zimmerman's trial seemed to raise as many questions as it answered, but one thing was proved convincingly: television in courtrooms can have damaging effects.

The jury had barely been seated when observers wondered why defense attorney Don West opened with a tasteless knock-knock joke. Would he have tried such a ploy if he weren't playing to a national television audience?

Florida was among the first states to permit televised trials, beginning in 1979. Notably, there had been a four-year delay because it proved impossible to get participants in trials to grant permission for the presence of cameras. Only after the state's Supreme Court removed the need for such waivers did telecasts finally begin.

In its ruling 34 years ago Florida's high court declared, "We are persuaded that on balance there is more to be gained than lost." The justices noted that their "prime motivating consideration" was a "commitment to open government."

However, that finding could also be used to argue against cameras in court. Is it acceptable for anything whatsoever to be "lost" in providing a fair trial? Is "open government," while undeniably important, really the "prime" factor in the criminal justice process?

Having spent much of my career studying the contrasts in behavior between those who are aware they are on television and those who are not, I am convinced that the presence of cameras is inhibiting. It can also encourage grandstanding, as Johnnie Cochran & Co. demonstrated in O.J. Simpson's 1995 courtroom debacle.


In the Zimmerman trial, televised testimony by prosecution witness Rachel Jeantel led to a raft of harsh comments about her in social media. Jeantel, who was only 17 at the time of Trayvon Martin's death, had been reluctant to testify and her media experience is unlikely to inspire witnesses to come forward in the future.

Zimmerman never testified, and as it turned out he didn't need to. But Robert Shapiro, another cast member from the O.J. trial, told CNN that he would have advised Zimmerman not to take the stand because TV might make him nervous. Imagine that: a man faces decades in prison, and a notable attorney believes his big worry should be television.

Ironically, federal courts, up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court, have resisted TV coverage, despite the fact that citizens would probably benefit by watching the proceedings. Trials like Zimmerman's, on the other hand, are of dubious educational value; the real beneficiaries are TV networks.

As Zimmerman's attorneys wrapped up their case, the nation got a glimpse of the next unwelcome chapter in video justice. The defense played a computer animation video in its closing argument, employing Hollywood technology like that used in the film "Iron Man." In the video, Martin punches Zimmerman in the face at the start of their confrontation, even though no witness actually saw such a scene.

While Zimmerman's lawyers argued that digital images are simply modern extensions of in-court diagrams, it's hard to imagine that after watching the video jurors didn't begin to feel they had actually witnessed something in real life.

Television's poor performance at Zimmerman's trial even turned laughable at one point, when a witness for the prosecution, Prof. Scott Pleasants, testified via webcam. In a moment certain to live on YouTube for eternity, television viewers flooded Pleasants' computer with random messages, causing such a disruption that Judge Debra Nelson had to cut the feed.

As technology improves and distribution via the Internet and cable-TV expands, there is an assumption that the negative impact of media gradually fades, while its utility expands. In fact, just the opposite seems true. Modern trials now involve not only the pressure of live TV, but also Hollywood style recreations, as well as instant second-guessing across a broad swath of social media.

Tabloid interests are being served, but not necessarily justice.


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Previously:


07/03/13 With Trayvon, who has won? Not us or the U.S.
07/01/13 When history comes with ink stained fingers
06/25/13 An E-Z Fix
06/11/13 Mister, Mister
06/04/13 Branded


© 2013, Peter Funt. Columns distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate

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