Tuesday, August 17, 2004

All Peterson, All the Time

This weekend I was at a dinner party, and a news show producer from one of the big 4 networks was there. This person is inside the courtroom in the Peterson trial every day. Her take: Peterson may be guilty as sin, but the prosecution has done a piss-poor job, Geragos has done a great job, and if things keep going the way they are (including with Amber Frey), Peterson's going to walk.

I tried to explain to her that she doesn't understand the dynamic of being in a trial where the defendant has been found guilty by the press long before the case ever got to trial. In cases like this (the David Westerfield case in San Diego a couple of years ago included), you can have very weak facts, but if they have been convicted in the press already, weak facts don't matter. Juries will find someone guilty on a sniff of guilt, even without compelling reasons. So many of these cases that have been reversed for late findings of DNA exonerating the defendant have been cases where the facts were really weak, but the case was high profile (at least in the area where the trial took place) and a rabid press convicted the defendant long before trial. The result, juries figure where there's smoke there's fire, and there would never be a case pending unless the police and press were really sure. Also, jurors have heard so much one-sided evidence in cases like that that they have formed a predisposition against the defendant, no matter what comes out at trial (and this is subliminal, so they may not even recognize it in order that it can be rooted out during voir dire).

What do I think the result will be? I think Peterson's going down. The contrast with his case and someone like OJ's is important - he is not a celebrity. I don't think he has a prayer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You were right. Only the foreman/doctor/lawyer wanted to deliberate the evidence. The others wanted to 'do what is right' (follow the lynch mob) and so the last chance Peterson had was threatened off the jury. So much for truth and justice.