Thursday, July 07, 2011
What Are We Going To Do?
Houston, we have a problem.
When Jason Young got a hung jury, I recognized the so-called "CSI effect," but the larger problem appeared to be a lukewarm presentation by the prosecutors. Becky Holt "ummmed" her way through her case as if sleepwalking. As one friend put it, she phoned it in. This was not the way it was in Casey Anthony. The prosecution was spot on. The Case in Chief was well-organized and passionate. The defense was manned by idiots. So what the hell happened?
Two things, I think, though they are connected. One is the "CSI Effect." For some reason, people don't seem to realize that dramas like "CSI Wherever" and "Criminal Minds" are fiction. F-I-C-T-I-O-N. Do we even know what that word means, any more? For the record, it means "made up." "Pretend." "A story." "Not true." To used Ben's example, you cannot blow up security camera footage of a license plate and clean up the blurry image to a readable level. Further, you cannot instantly find somebody's location within 3" using cell phone towers. You cannot lift identifiable DNA from a tool that has been stored down a well for 30 years. Not in real life. Jurors seem to have become incapable of distinguishing fact from fiction.
The other thing that appears to hang juries is "reasonable doubt." Jurors seem to want the case proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. What was the phrase Jose Baez used over and over during his Closing Arguments? "Beyond every reasonable doubt." He said that often enough to implant that word, "every" in the mind of each juror.
Is this phenomenon part of the dumbing down of America? We can no longer reason? We no longer trust common sense?
The solution may be better-educated jurors. Can we please have some standards? If we can't find a way to do this, the only alternative I can see is to abandon the jury system as we know it and adopt one that involves professional jurors. Some of us have discussed this before, and, at that time, I was dead set against the suggestion. I still hate it, but even more, I hate the thought of Casey Anthony and her ilk getting away with murder.
I know Cheney Mason was flipping off the photographer, but his crude and arrogant gesture seems aimed at Justice herself.