Criminal Coverage: News Media, Legal Commentary, and the Crucible of the Presumption of Innocence
Reynolds Courts & Media Law Journal, Vol. 1, No. 4, p. 427, Fall 2011
18 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2012 Last revised: 21 Jun 2012
Date Written: 2011
The criminal defense bar has always had a complex relationship with the media. There are competing parts of the Constitution to consider, namely, the First and the Sixth Amendments. Generally speaking, publicity hurts a criminal defendant. There are already so many presumptions against anyone charged — particularly anyone charged with a violent offense. That said, without the media, abuses of power would never come to light. For example, even though it was a long time coming, former police commander Jon Burge would never have gone to jail for the torture of those he arrested without the intervention of the press and the assiduity of a few lawyers and reporters. This article article identifies practical intrusions of these tensions in today’s world — the obtrusiveness of the twenty-four hour news cycle, pervasive legal commentators (I use the word “legal” advisedly) and the ethical implications of treating crime news as entertainment.
Keywords: crime and media; legal commentators, high profile criminal cases, conflict between 1st and 6th Amendments
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation