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'The People v. O.J. Simpson' sparks question of media's relationship with the court for student columnist

PMG FILE PHOTO  - Reem AlharithiI had hoped that mom jeans and scrunchies would be the only thing from our parents' generations that made a comeback. I definitely didn't expect the infamy of O.J. Simpson to return as well. "The People v. O.J. Simpson" recently caught my eye as the trailer for the show played automatically at the top of Netflix's home page.

I let myself get hooked and ended up watching the show and researching for more hours than I would like to admit. I re-started this article tens of times, each time with a different intention.

My gut reaction was to criticize our generation for feeding into his publicity, but that would mean that I was taking the guilty side, trying to argue against giving money and fame to a murderer. But the truth is, after falling a wormhole of sources on the Web, I just don't know.

I think that is the bigger question. Why have we let the media override the truths of the legal system?

With the executive branch holding the "power of the sword" and the legislative branch holding the "power of the purse," the judicial system was systematically made powerless so that the sole motivation for its decisions would be morality. Of course, the media is taking this idea derived in 1778 from Hamilton's Federalist 78 and ripping it to shreds. Yes, everyone should be given the right to a public trial, but how public is too public?

The debate between free press and fair trial has plagued the courts for quite some time. Either one risks a corrupt trial by abolishing the scrutiny of the media, or they risk inflamed publicity corrupting the outcome of due process. There have been examples of both in our country and choosing between these two extremes would be like choosing the lesser of two evils. The Supreme Court has decided it for the public. In the past, they have tended to side with the media except in the case of pre-trial hearings.

This decision may have been the best case in the past but looking at it today with the context of the Internet controlling almost every aspect of our lives, it seems a touch outdated. The media we are debating is no longer radio, print, or even television, it is portable and constant. It is no longer that everyone can have an opinion on the trial, it's now that every opinion is heard and biases the outcome. 

The reason that the O.J. Simpson case is still debated today stands to be a timeless reminder of the need to restrict the impact of the media on the judicial system.

Reem Alharithi is a junior at West Linn High School.


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