I spent one day at the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995. Prosecutors spent what seemed like hours in an attempt to stipulate that an indentation in Nicole Simpson's back came from a bra hook.
I asked some of the big names and print grunts covering the trial why prosecutors were wasting so much time on a bra hook. My peers argued, breathlessly, how necessary it was to explain the little dent, lest defense attorney Johnny Cochran later use the dent to support a scenario involving The Real Killers.
To my undying shame, I figured they must know what they were talking about. Baloney. They were so infatuated with the celebrity of the trial that they couldn't see guilty when it stared them in the face. Their attitude had to rub off on jurors.
We don't know if Scott Peterson killed Laci and Conner. If he did, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution.
But a burden also lies with the media -- the obligation to not be in awe of every gimmicky bit of "evidence," to not marvel at forensic gymnastics while ignoring bread-and-butter evidence.
There was a time when cooler heads warned against the media trying a man in public, not in a court of law.
In the age of 24-hour news, there is a danger of the media acquitting a man in public, and then in a court of law.
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