The Real Cost of Technology?

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.

nancy              jodi              the public

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, one of the biggest problems 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?

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5 Responses to The Real Cost of Technology?

  1. newbieblogster13 says:

    If I’m correct, you’re stating the concern with technology is that quick, up-to-date information has become easily provided by hand held systems like phones and that people can use social networking sites for and against other people and themselves, and an impartial jury become difficult? If it is so, then I’d have to disagree with you and say that it’s become more of a positive rather than a negative. People have the right to know about cases and allowed their own opinions about the person after the case. In the case you spoke of of Jodi Arias, I see no problem with people knowing about the case and the fact that an impartial jury is not difficult. I don’t remember the term but in cases where a person becomes highly discriminated against, the case is moved to other states for an impartial jury and candidates for the jury are cross examined to see if they can be impartial jurists. The only cases where even this becomes difficult are in celebrity cases where the prosecuted is well known. Even then it’s very possible to find people who know nothing of the person or case. Also, as you spoke about the case of Casey Anthony, people have the right to their own opinion as in the First amendment and it was her conduct which made Casey appear guilty even after the trial. There was substantial evidence against her but could not be used because some of it was botched and she was partying during her conviction and after. Lastly, people shouldn’t be putting anything on the internet in the first place if its personal and stuff other people shouldn’t see.

    • dlsimps2 says:

      No quick, up to date information is not my concern, goodness knows that I wouldn’t have been able to write half my paper’s at 3 a.m. before they were due if not for the speed that we can access information now. As of right now, as I see it, Ms. Arias does have a fair and impartial jury. My interest was in the ‘what if’ of if the mistrial had been granted because a witness had been exposing herself to prejudicial media material against the will of the court. In my mind it wasn’t granted for the same reason that we will never know who actually googled chloroform in Casey Anthony’s household as well as why it is hard to bring suit for cyber stalking: you have a difficult time proving who was on the other side of the technology, in this case the defense couldn’t prove that the witness had been watching the case on HLN and knowingly exposing herself the inflamatory opinions of thos like Mrs. Nancy Grace.

      As to the change of venue that attorneys can file for there was a case overturned in Moblie Alabama recently for the simple fact that the request was not granted
      Basically this man was convicted of killing his four chldren by throwing them off a bridge but because of press surrounding the case, the request wasn’t granted, and the attorneys were not allowed to question potential jurors about their prior knowledge, his conviction was overturned.

      I worry for the future of court cases that are following rules and regulations that cannot possibly keep up with the technology we churn out today. I worry that this will be the basis of a potential Supreme Court Case one day and that the bad guys will win while the good guys have already been suffering punishment.
      Your lastly words are words to live by though

  2. I’d have to say that this is one of those cases where personal responsibility comes in to play. I really fail to see how this person received an unfair trial, if we hold people to the no outside sources standard then they should be forced to stay in a room with food brought to them until they decide. Otherwise one stray newspaper or incident of channel surfing could ruin your unbiased attitude. I would have to say that its plain stupid. Being held in contempt of court for using facebook is stupid. Perhaps what gets me though is that this woman contacted the prosecutors and told them that there were inconsistencies. I mean that is just stupid. I would just call for a mistrial and write the woman off as an idiot not a criminal.

    • dlsimps2 says:

      She isn’t recieving an unfair trail, no one has been convicted yet, yes the witness was an idiot but maybe I didn’t explain myself as clearly as I thought. I’m saying that the chances of an unfair trial (or creating one for a personal agenda) are significantly raised by the technology we use including newspapers. With the amount of information we are being fed, much more than in the days where O.J. Simpson was a high profile case, it can be difficult to find jurors with little to no prior knowledge of the case not accounting for the prejudicial sometimes inflamatory ways that information is being delivered. The witness testifying that she watched the case (oh wait JK I was getting facebook updates about it) and then calling the prosecutors office everytime she turned around makes her look neurotic, but more importantly she let whatever information about consistencies she was getting bias the information she personally had making her a liability to the case. There’s a reason why people at a crime scene are seperated to give their personal account of what they saw, in my eyes facebook can be just as bad as talking to another passerby about whether the bank robber was carrying a gun or a knife.

  3. theginja says:

    This whole post makes me feel old …

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