June 13, 2005

MJ & "The Situation"
     ...or breaking my pledge that this blog be Michael Jackson-free

Well, to paraphrase Baretta, don't do the crime if you aren't a celebrity. But is it the great lawyer you can hire or is it your fame? Scott Peterson got a great lawyer but wasn't famous and was convicted. With Martha Stewart it went the other way, although I think that just proves that juries will punish hubris. Celebrity trumps non-celebrity but snobbishness trumps all. And Michael Jackson, O.J. and Blake came off as sufficiently humble during their trials. It helps if you can act; both Simpson & Blake know how to woo an audience.

I'm wondering if part of the reason for the acquitals is disbelief that someone we "invite into our homes" could do such heinous things. Connecting this to the abuse scandal, I remember hearing that some parishes were actually upset that their abusing priest was not allowed to continue in his ministry. A priest can be a sort of quasi-celebrity figure in a congregation and perhaps either there was disbelief that he was an abuser or a desire to instantly forget what he did even to the ludicrous point of putting young children in harm's way. It's all quite a head-shaker. With the Jackson case, you had two brothers testifying (whom the jury presumably believed were lying), and you had the unchallenged evidence of Jackson & the boy's prints on the same porn mag. 'Twould seem an uphill battle for the defense, at least if your name was Roger Smith.

But my hunch is that most of these celeb trials are won or lost in jury selection and experts handpick the jury they want. They know body language and can read us like a book. When you combine that with the fact that we are like sheep, easily led by an charismatic lawyer, than you see how the cards favor the defendant in celebrity trials.

No comments: