Litigation Processes – The New Norm

The new norm. Criminal cases must be tried in the media before going to the courts.

The recent presidential election spectacle in the US has brought home one disturbing fact of the new normal in America. The press are demanding that criminal cases be tried in the media before they go to the courts. Several high profile cases in the last few years have been tried in the media long before the cases went to trial. Then, when the case went to court; and if the court ruling differed from the media ruling, there were massive public outcries and demonstrations.

In the 2020 presidential race, President Trump refused to accept the election results and vowed to take the issue of election fraud to the courts. Nobody knew at the time if his claims had any basis or not. A lot of people assumed that his claims were baseless, and they possibly were. However, as soon as he made the claims, several news media organizations stated categorically the he had no proof (they were already reporting on the outcome of litigation that had not yet begun). They said that, he had not submitted his evidence to the press, therefore there was no proof. Again, they reported this as absolute fact, not speculation. They continued to demand that he submit his legal proof to the press BEFORE he submitted the evidence to the courts. And the general public seemed to agree!

What a shocking change in the rule of law! It used to be that you presented evidence of criminal wrong doing to the courts for adjudication. Now it seems the the accepted legal process is that you present you evidence to the press and they must adjudicate it before it goes to the courts. The standard, and accepted, response to the press by lawyers and principals in a case used to be “we can not comment on pending litigation”. Seems that is no longer a valid response. And should you fail to bow to the press’s demands to disclose all your arguments before you present them to the courts, you do so at your own peril. They will punish you with relentless public attacks on you character; again all presented as absolute fact.

In this particular case, the media predictions of the legal arguments not standing up in court may come true. However that does not excuse their penchant for reporting speculation as fact. We are heading down a slippery slope of subverting the legal process by the media.

I can still remember the “old days” when there was something called “investigative journalism” but that died with the proliferation of social media which fueled the public’s demand for instant reporting of events, even before there was any facts to report.

The outhouse

Oh well. I guess I will head to the outhouse and read a newspaper and see if I can find some “real” news.