Celebrity scandals seem to be the hottest topic in American culture today. Celebrity news controls the news circuit, rather than the reporting of actual world-changing current events. Specifically, there is much speculation in regards to celebrity court cases and their validity.
Celebrity court cases are a constant media hype. When an idol commits a crime, and further goes to trial, one can expect the story to be splashed on the front pages of all the major news outlets. Celebrities receive an incredible amount of publicity for their crime(s). Therefore, citizens remember, for example, the O.J. Simpson murder trial, over civilian murder cases.
Americans are so over-concerned with the status of the figure being prosecuted, we often forget about the Constitutional rights, and the due-process of sentencing regulations that are consistently altered in celebrity trials.
As idols, inspirations, and publicly-known figures, the courts have to be extremely cautious with the way in which they handle criminal law against such high-status, powerful, and wealthy celebrities.
In a majority of high-status trials, the outcomes are mediocre, and almost insulting to we the people. For example, in the O.J. Simpson murder trial in 1995, the prosecution presented the jury with three major forms of evidence: Simpson’s hair particles at the murder seen, Simpson’s matching bloody footprints at the scene, and the recovery of his bloody clothes found at his residence post-murder. With such profound evidence displayed, Simpson walking away from the case with minor charges was shocking, almost unbelievable.
The public blames Simpson’s case win on his exceptional “dream team” of specialty lawyers, a team that came with one of the highest price tags known in defense court, $20 million.
“Money can retain the most superior lawyers, and typically great criminal attorneys get great results for their clients,” said Legal Services Administrator at Vititoe Law Group, Christopher Levinson.
Simpson’s net worth in 1990 was $50 million, while today, his net worth is at a faltering $250,000. One can speculate where all that money has gone, but we can surmise that the majority of it has been spent securing his freedom.
“I agree with the real possibility that money and power can buy/influence the law.” Levinson said. Money overpowers evidence, in some cases, which I believe to be a disgrace when judges, lawyers, jurors, etc. take an oath to remaining true and fair throughout the trial process. Freedom and sentencing is not only swayed by the persuasion of the top lawyers hired in the courtroom. Celebrities’ status in the public eye also persuades the final trial outcomes.
Due to the reputation celebrities hold, and obviously the financial means most possess, lobbyists and public relation firms are often hired to promote self-serving campaigns in favor of the celebrity being prosecuted. These campaigns that these high-status people can participate in hold enormous influence over politicians, the law and public perception. Such efforts are not offered to the everyday citizen, further proving that the amount of financial compensation one has to offer can directly affect their overall perception to the court, and even their sentence.
“The practice of ‘favors for favors’ occurs a lot in government and in politics.” said California Lutheran University junior Jonah Shenson. He said he suggests that loyalty to one who has committed a “favor” for another can potentially triumph a criminal charge.
When researching celebrity court cases, trials and outcomes, I couldn’t help but ask myself, ‘What happened to true justice in America?’ In almost every single celebrity case I reviewed, it seemed as if the final verdict was unimpressive.
Celebrities are constantly receiving the easy way out in the court system simply due to their public perception and status, and ultimately their financial means. It is not fair that the evidence presented and the crimes these idols commit seem to be overlooked in the best interest of the public, and those trying the case.
The court systems have to remain impartial to the case at hand regardless of whom the defendant is, in order to gain honest reputation. In Kanye West’s single, “All Falls Down,” he says, “We can buy our way out of jail,” suggesting, again, that finances hold significant effect in court systems.
There is more concern on how much a figure is willing to spend on their freedom, rather than focusing on the crime at hand and the Constitutional regulations. All politicians in power take an oath at the beginning of their term to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, and to practice the law in the most justifiable way possible. I find this oath to be altered in the presence of a rich, prominent figure.
Published October 15, 2014