Apart from legal arguments, witnesses and pieces of evidence, there are many other factors that decide the outcome of a criminal case. For example, a case may be discussed, analyzed, and reported on so much outside the courtroom that it affects the selected jurors. If you're about to be involved in a trial, be aware of these three ways that outside sources could affect the jury—and affect your sentence.
Distortion of Memory
One of the effects of pretrial publicity on jurors is that it affects their memory. In a highly publicized trial, it is likely that the jurors would have watched, read about (both online and print news sources) and discussed with their friends the innocence or guilt of the suspect.
When these people, who have been saturated with information (that may be true or false), are selected as jurors, they hear some of the same things they heard outside the courtroom. This may distort their memory. During jury deliberations, some jurors may not differentiate (in their minds) between what they heard in the courtroom and what they got from the mainstream media.
The Power of Repetition
In most criminal cases, there is always at least one person or party that the media casts in a particularly bad light. This is especially true of cases that involve the "mighty" and the "downtrodden" such as a pharmaceutical company versus minimum wage workers. In such a case, the media may paint the pharmaceutical giant in such a bad light that almost everybody begins to believe in his or her evil.
The problem with everyday people is that the more they hear the same thing, the more they believe it is true. Psychologist Dr. Jeremy Dean states that people believe repeated information more than information that is stated once.
People Believe News Reports
Lastly, it is jurors may also be influenced because many people believe that the news they read, hear or see is true. Sure, belief in the media may be declining at the moment, but it is still high enough to influence some people. For example, according to Gallup, in the year 2014, about 40% of Americans believed that the media were reporting accurate and fair news. The figures are even higher for some particular news sources such as local newspapers that people seem to trust a lot.
There are different ways of dealing with pretrial publicity. For example, your lawyer can petition the court to direct all the parties involved in the case to desist from discussing it outside the courtroom. Your lawyer will also get a chance to question the prospective jurors, and help weed out those who are unsuitable for the task at hand, during the voir dire process. In extreme cases, your lawyer may even succeed in petitioning the court to move the trial elsewhere.
For more information or assistance, contact local expert resources such as Law Office of Michael Marinaro & Associates.Share