With the removal of now former Gov. Rod Blagojevich from power as was done by the Illinois State Senate yesterday, do not expect a cheer coming from me. One must wonder how many of those who ousted him from power are nervous today that they too can be drawn into any future legal proceeding against them. Will they as well be tried in the media as former Gov. Blagojevich was? I wonder how many went home afterwards to pour themselves a good-stiff-drink.
Decades before the Internet and 24/7 cable news, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Hugo Black cited in 1941, “Legal trials are not like elections, to be won through the use of the meeting-hall, the radio, and the newspaper.”1 In the last decade, it seems as though Justice Black’s fear that legal battles would be waged in the media has come to fruition.2 The public’s interest in high-profile criminal cases has grown dramatically over the last decade, increasing the difficulty of finding impartial decisionmakers.3 Because such a highly publicized atmosphere surrounds potential jurors, these triers of fact may be influenced as to the guilt or innocence of a high-profile defendant before the trial even begins.”
To those within the mainstream media who pre-judged his guilt; exactly how is he supposed to get twelve jurors to decide his guilt or innocence when you decided it for them? Call me finicky, but I believe in the rule of law where a person is tried within a court of law and not in the court of public opinion. Journalists can opine, but opining is supposition and not facts based on the evidence. It is supposed to be where said facts in evidence are challenged by the defendant’s attorney. By spouting their opinions, it is tantamount to them taking the stand without having sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Even as I have written several columns on Blagojevich cannot opine if he is innocent or guilty because I have not seen the facts in evidence or have witnessed it challenged by his lawyers. So, if I am going to opine anything, he is still presumed innocent under the law.
To those who defend the Guantánamo detainees: What would you say if I said they were already guilty? The law must be driving some nuts right now as some look protect their rights, but not a former governor’s rights?
Case in point to prove how the media influences any trial proceeding is when the Church of Scientology asked that a case against them be moved to a different venue.
In reading this article, pay close attention to this item, "This week, it took the unusual step of asking the court to move a civil trial out of this area because, it says, potential Pinellas jurors have been prejudiced by negative media coverage."
Like the derogatory names used by the media in referring to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, also cited in this article, "The community prejudice has been fueled by an ongoing barrage of negative media comments, principally by the St. Petersburg Times and the local television stations, including publication of inflammatory and unethical public statements by Kennan Dandar."
While this is all water under the bridge, I do opine that these state legislators should have waited for any indictment handed down by the U.S. Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald and not a moment sooner. Indictments are handed down by grand-jurors who are the first decision makers in any legal proceeding with the ultimate ones being the jurors who at the end hear the case.
I too was upset with the former governor as he barnstormed the media pleading his case, but do feel he needed to since those in power were launching their case against him. Without a trial in the near future prosecuted by Fitzgerald, what was he supposed to do? Just stand there and take it on the chin by these state legislators who were not hearing his side? Did they in fact want to hear his side since many I suppose have their own political agendas? If political agendas were their motive, then shame on them.
As the mainstream media lynched him in the court of public opinion what they failed to present were the meritorious acts of this former governor. Since we are speaking of the court of public opinion where corporations are now demonized, it was the former governor who proposed a Tax Fairness Plan. This plan, "would shift the tax burden away from individuals, who have been carrying an increasing share of the burden over the past thirty years, to large businesses, which have paid little to no income tax." As we face a global economic meltdown, to his detractors, I strongly suggest that you read of this plan which was proposed by the former governor two years ago.
As President Barack Obama reminds parent’s of their responsibility when it comes to their children spending huge chunks of their time online or in front of computer games, it was former Governor Rod Blagojevich who chose to go up against this multi-billion dollar industry. This industry produces some of the most violent and sexually explicit games that our children are being exposed to. The next time there is a school shooting at the hands of a teenager, keep that in mind.
In the end, I wish former Gov. Blagojevich my best wishes since I am not cheering his removal from office today. I am also waiting for who the next person to be tried by the media instead of in a court of law. Good luck, Mr. Blagojevich in finding impartial jurors since the media already tried you.
Author’s email address is, firstname.lastname@example.org
In addendum to this article, as one clicks on the link to read the former Governor Blagojevich’s Tax Fairness Plan, you will see listed as the governor, Gov. Pat Quinn. This was not Quinn’s proposed legislation, but that of former Governor Rod Blagojevich.