As I’m sitting here writing this piece my phone buzzes, a friend texting to see if I’m going to meet her later to study, my homepage is running its usual newsfeed with all the gore and drama of an action movie, and the on the TV screen is Mrs. Nancy Grace (oh your twins are just precious Nancy! Thank you Janet in South Carolina, now what’s your question). Our world is a mass of Facebook, Texting, and instant media literally right at our fingertips. Now what is the cost of all that technology to not only to someone on the stand, defending themselves, but to victims and their families?
If you’ve been watching the Jodi Arias trial that has been taking place here in Arizona you’ve come to know Ms. Arias’s version of the tawdry, abusive affair she carried on with Travis Alexander. The reason you can’t hear Mr. Alexander’s side of the story, for those of you who haven’t been watching, is because she killed him allegedly in self-defense. In an effort to aid Travis a friend of his named Sky Hughes took the stand when the defense called her. The defense started by asking Sky if she had been in contact with the prosecution to which she replied that she had been. In only a short amount of time, the defense has Mrs. Hughes so wrapped around her story she didn’t know what she was saying but she provided a very key point to the defense which gave them an opportunity to ask for a mistrial. Sky started by saying that yes she was watching the trial and calling the prosecution telling them the inconsistencies in Jodi’s testimony. When she realized she shouldn’t have said that she corrected her story saying that she was getting texts and her husband, also involved in the case, was receiving Facebook messages from friends that would point out the inconsistencies and then she would contact the prosecution. What the defense stood on was a court order that all witnesses for either side abstain from watching anything to do with the trial in order to give their unbiased testimony.
The motion for mistrial failed, but the implications of it either way scared me.
Say that a mistrial was granted. I know personally that I would not be a viable candidate to serve on the jury and I would venture to say that not many people in the state, possibly the nation that would be because of the nationwide coverage that the trial has been getting. There are updates on the nightly news explaining how Ms. Arias detailed the sexual escapades she participated in to keep Mr. Alexander from getting angry. Newsfeeds rave that she was practically laughing at the prosecutor during Friday’s cross examination. Friends weigh in on whether they believe her story or not. This all boils down to the fact that so many people have been exposed to the trial an impartial jury would be very hard to find. Another option is that she is found not guilty just as Tot Mom Casey Anthony was in July of 2011. In the court of law the prosecution did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Casey killed her young daughter yet close to two years later the court of public opinion is still calling for her blood. If found not guilty Jodi could never go back to living a normal life free from TMZ and AOL alerts when she’s been seen shopping in Walmart.
In our haste to grab onto every new technology we can, I think, we forget how quickly it can turn against us. When Jane Velez-Mitchell (18 years sober Carrie in Arkansas) plays a video on HLN one night and the defense team uses that video as evidence the next day, it makes me wonder where we’ve buried the rights that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights guarantees us.
If Jodi Arias cannot have the chance at getting a fair trial with a jury of her peers what chance do any of us have? In the old days of Gideon v. Wainwright, was the right to counsel for the poor. This seems pleasantly straightforward in comparison. Should the poor have representation in court? Yes. Should the accused have the right to an impartial jury? Yes. But it seems that our up-to-the-minute world has made these simple concerns much more intricate.
If we have lost one of those crucial pieces of just the 6th amendment then what else have we let go because the iPhone 5S just came out?