Celebrity Criminal Cases: A Disadvantage for All

My opinion on the topic of an unfair criminal justice system is that High profile lawyers get their celebrity clients to obtain special and unjust treatment in a court of law, however, I am aware that many people do not have the same opinion as I do. Many people actually believe that high profile criminal cases have more disadvantages than anything else.

Although what I believe is different, other researchers and people believe that being a celebrity in a court of law is actually a negative thing. Because these criminals are of a high profile, their cases are likely to end up in the media, and this is not always a good thing. This means that the media can warp and force ideas into the publics minds, causing a disadvantage to the defendant. As stated in an article titled, “Televised Trials: Weighing Advantages against Disadvantages” by Susanna R. Barber, “Trial publicity may serve a crime control function and reassure viewers that justice is being served; but this same publicity encourages negative perceptions of criminals and fosters prejudice against defendants.” (280). This explains that yes, having a case that is publicized and open for interpretation by the world is just, but also that this type of exposure to a case can be detrimental to the defendants case. thus, giving them a disadvantage over a less high profile case.

Another reason these high profile cases have many disadvantages is similar but different to the last. As the last example this one talks about media coverage and being in the public eye, however, the difference is that the emotional effect on these criminals is toxic. These criminals are placed under a microscope and all of their mistakes are played out in front of not only a court, but the entire world. “Preparing for the High Profile Case: An Omnibus Treatment for Judges and Lawyers”, an article written by Gerald T. Wetherington, Hanson Lawton and Donald I. Pollock explores the idea that not only the criminals are at a disadvantage, but also the judges and lawyers taking on the case. “A judge who is assigned to preside over a high profile case should expect to be confronted with explosive free press and fair trial issues even before the first scheduled hearing.” (430). These judges are forced to deal with the backlash of the media and public outburst before the case is even closed.

Because so much publicity comes before the case is even in court for high profile criminals, “the necessity for court officers to begin preparations to handle the extraordinary judicial management problems that such cases generate.” (Pollock, 431). This means that so much money is involved in these cases that the court needs to be ready for all of the financial responsibilities that are to come and are able to replenish their losses at the end. In this case, the disadvantage is that their is a lot of money involved in cases that are of such high stature. Both the court and the defendant could lose a lot of money in this process.

Lastly, high profile criminal cases are at a disadvantage because it is noticed “that television exposure is a form of public punishment, leading to permanent stigmatization in the eyes of the community” (Barber, 282). In other words, those involved in these cases may gain a shameful reputation after the case is closed, even if they are found not guilty simply because of the negative exposure their case obtained in the media.

It is important to realize that not everyone will have the same opinion as you. I do realize that my belief that celebrities are treated better than average criminals is unorthodox and that more people believe that these high profile cases are at a disadvantage. Others believe that celebrity criminals can lose everything in a court of law just like anybody else, however, I disagree with that statement.

Works Cited

Susanna R. Barber, Televised Trials: Weighing Advantages against Disadvantages, 10 Just. Sys. J. 279 (1985)

Gerald T. Wetherington; Hanson Lawton; Donald I. Pollock, Preparing for the High Profile Case: An Omnibus Treatment for Judges and Lawyers, 51 Fla. L. Rev. 425 (1999)

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2 Responses to Rebuttal-Jets1313

  1. davidbdale says:

    Jets, I’ll save overall comments for later. First I want to react to your Introduction.
    1. While it’s a very good idea to be clear how your opinion differs from others’, it’s not good strategy to remind readers that we’re talking about a matter of opinion. Yours is the correct position. Be confident.
    2. Your first paragraph wastes a lot of words that your second paragraph then repeats. Transitions between paragraphs can be tricky, but if you find you’re using the same language again within an inch of its first statement, it’s time to trim.
    3. Several phrases are unclear.
    –A) “get their celebrity clients to obtain special and unjust treatment”
    [Here we think you mean the lawyers instruct their clients to get their own special treatment.]
    –B) “high profile criminal cases have more disadvantages”
    [Cases don’t have disadvantages. Lawyers and their clients might be AT a disadvantage in such trials. Or the defense might suffer some disadvantages.]
    –C) “being a celebrity in a court of law is actually a negative thing”
    [A negative thing is not necessarily a hindrance to justice. For a private person, the negative aspect might be simple exposure of their private lives. You mean, I think, that being a celebrity can prejudice the judicial system to more likely convict.]
    –D) “their cases are likely to end up in the media, and this is not always a good thing”
    [Again, I think you’re making a very specific argument but with language that doesn’t pin down the “negative thing.”]
    4. Your evidence does not prove what you say it proves. Unless I misunderstand you (which is possible), you want to prove that the defendant IS MORE LIKELY TO BE CONVICTED OR MORE HARSHLY SENTENCED because of the public’s interest in the case. But the quote merely says that TV viewers form “negative perceptions of criminals and [that the publicity] fosters prejudice against defendants.” Defendants aren’t convicted by TV viewers. The publicity may harm their reputations with the public, but you seem to be arguing for judicial harm.
    5. I wonder if you remember the JUST PASSED SCENIC VIEWS lecture. In it, we discussed the flaw of presenting evidence first and THEN telling readers what they should have been looking at. The better approach ALWAYS is to tell your readers the conclusion FIRST, then present the evidence so they know how it proves your point. In these first two paragraphs, you do BOTH. You prep us to see that TV trials can disadvantage defendants, then you present the quote, and then you tell us AGAIN, but slightly differently, what we’re supposed to believe.


  2. davidbdale says:

    High profile lawyers gain preferential and therefore unjust treatment for their celebrity clients. But not according to Gerald T. Wetherington, Hanson Lawton and Donald I. Pollock, who appear to argue that judges preparing for a high-profile case could be prejudiced by the attention.

    I’m making this recommendation, Jets, for several reasons.
    1. It makes clear your position in a simple first sentence.
    2. It does what every good Rebuttal Argument does immediately: it identifies an expert whose point of view differs from yours and which poses a threat to your own credibility.
    3. It takes a different angle on the evidence I believe is probably there for you to exploit as you pursue your own narrow argument: that celebrity status and publicity AFFECT THE TRIAL OUTCOME or the TREATMENT ACCORDED TO CELEBRITY DEFENDANTS.

    You and I can go to trial in near secrecy, Jets. If we’re found NOT GUILTY, it’s possible very few people will ever know we faced charges. But celebrities whose cases are public may never recover from the catastrophic damage to their reputations even if the justice system exonerates them. [This is an example of how “being a celebrity on trial can be a bad thing.” But it’s NOT the focus of your argument. See how many ways there are to interpret unclear claims?]

    All that seems irrelevant to your Thesis. So my primary observation about your Rebuttal argument is that, while you’ve gathered sources that make substantial claims about celebrity trials, they don’t contribute much to your narrow thesis.

    UNLESS, you can show that your Rebuttal sources are making claims like the one I introduced at the top. If they’re saying: CELEBRITY DEFENDANTS CAN’T GET A FAIR OUTCOME (whether too lenient or too severe) because the publicity distorts the judicial process, places non-judicial pressure on judges to please the public, prejudices juries AGAINST what they perceive to be overly-privileged individuals . . . and similar claims.

    Is this helpful?
    I won’t proceed further until I get clear direction from you about the sort of help you’re hoping for.


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