Orlando Sentinel Readers: 65% Say Zimmerman Can't Get a Fair Trial
The Orlando Sentinel polled its online readers. Only 35% believe Zimmerman can get a fair trial. Most blame the media coverage. The best response is the first one currently showing by Diane Panacek of Altamonte Springs.
The slanted media coverage continues unabated. The most ridiculous question I saw asked today was by an MSNBC interviewer named Tammaron Hall who told her legal guest that Zimmerman's attorney wanted him to appear in civilian clothes instead of an orange jumpsuit, and asked him, "Is that a bizarre request or something you would often hear?" If she's that ignorant of court proceedings, what is she doing interviewing anyone about them? (The commentator says it's a "sensible request" and then compares the request to one made for convicted murderer Scott Peterson.)
Also, apparently neither noticed that Zimmerman wore a gray jumpsuit at his last court appearance. The orange jumpsuit comes from his booking photo in 2005 in Orange County.[More}
So in a nutshell, here's what MSNBC, Ms. Hall and the legal analyst did: They showed Zimmerman in an orange jumpsuit which everyone associates with wrong-doing, then asked a stupid question implying it's "bizarre" and unusual for Zimmerman to want to wear his own clothes at a televised court hearing, and then compared his case to that of a notorious defendant who maintained his innocence thoughout, was tried and convicted first in the media and then in court, where the jury validated the public's perception he was guilty. And threw in along the way that George Zimmerman's lawyer, like Scott Peterson's lawyer, wants to portray him as "human", as if he is not already and is really a monster.
No wonder readers and viewers think George Zimmerman can't get a fair trial. The media coverage of this case has been abysmal.
Maybe instead of a revision to Stand Your Ground laws, we should have laws preventing the lawyers and PR reps for family members of purported crime victims from going on TV and spreading their biased and inflammatory rhetoric all over the airwaves.
Not every tragedy is a crime. Not every killing is a murder. Not every inter-racial killing is a hate crime. But everyone in this country accused of a crime has the right to the presumption of innocence and right to a trial by an impartial jury.
The Bill of Rights was designed to protect persons accused of crime, not families of crime victims. They have rights under the law to be present at proceedings, to be kept informed by the prosecutor, and to be heard at the appropriate stage of a criminal proceeding. They should not have the right to have their representatives destroy the life of the person responsible for their personal tragedy, send them into hiding, poison any prospective jury pool and fuel the media with allegations to keep the case in the headlines for weeks on end in an attempt to force the state into action.
in this case, the media doesn't even bother to check whether the demands of the Martin family lawyers are legally viable before printing them. Latest case in point: CNN which yesterday reported:
Natalie Jackson, an attorney for Martin's family, on Thursday told CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin that O'Mara called to set up a private meeting between Zimmerman and the Martin family. The family declined, Jackson said, indicating they want Zimmerman, instead, to give a deposition on what happened the evening of February 26.
No one can demand a defendant who is facing criminal charges submit to a deposition about the charged crime. A defendant has an absolute right under the Fifth Amendment to refuse to say anything at all. No civil suit is pending, and if there was one, the defendant would not be compelled to give a deposition while under criminal indictment.
What this case needs is a gag order on extra-judicial comments by lawyers representing the interests of any of the principals in the case, both prosecution and defense, their spokespersons and all persons who might be called as witnesses.
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