What Impact Do The Media Have On The Roles And Responsibilities Of The Attorneys In A Trial?


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Sarah Marsh answered
This is a big question as it focuses on two of the main cornerstones of our society today - the media and the justice system. And given the latest developments with the injunction and superinjunction cases taken against Twitter, it’s a very real issue that the media can now actively affect the law-making process.  The public opinion is shaped by what it is told by the media, this means that for most people the news is their portal to know what’s going on in the world around them. 

The roles and responsibilities of attorneys in a trial is to make sure the trial goes fairly and that justice will be carried out, as they answer to the law not to the media. The media as an industry has a job, in that they provide news in the most spectacularly ‘grabby’ way, which means that a trial may be portrayed in a sensationalist way that has no bearing on the case itself. A case about abortion may bring up issues about women’s rights, or a case about child abuse may bring up issues about the lack of state funding. These factors are not inherent to the case but are things that the media will pick up on. It is the job of an attorney to be aware of these issues but not to let them cloud the outcome of the trial. However, there are situations where the trial can become saturated with media attention, to the extent where the judge of the proceedings may feel compelled to sway with public opinion. This is not norm, but is point worth considering. In short, any trial seized upon by the media becomes public property, but the job of a good attorney is to be able to focus on justice being served, not on the beliefs of the majority as shaped by the few.

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