Twenty years ago this October, the “Trial of the Century” ended with the acquittal of O.J. Simpson. Some Americans felt the not guilty verdict was proof that — even in the face of extraordinary publicity — a defendant could receive the full measure of justice. Others felt, however, that the case revealed ugly truths about the deficiencies in our criminal justice system — and that most defendants, lacking the significant resources available to Simpson, cannot match the state dollar for dollar in high profile litigation.
Jami Floyd has been talking about the tension between free press and fair trial ever since she taught the subject at Stanford Law. Now, she leads a compelling discussion on the tension between the first and sixth amendments in conjunction with a behind-the-scenes look at high profile cases she has covered as a journalist. Should courtrooms in these cases be closed to the public altogether? Whose rights are most important? The defendant’s? The victim’s? The public’s? Or the media’s?
Floyd’s experience as a legal reporter has cemented her place as an authority on the topic, exploring the cases of Timothy McVeigh, Michael Jackson, Michael Skakel, Rod Blegojevich, Scooter Libby, Dominique Strauss Kahn, Martha Stewart, Zimmerman/Martin and more. Together with the audience, Floyd will explore the history of these cases, going back to the Salem Witch trials, the trial of Aaron Burr, Sacco & Vanzetti, the Lindberg Baby Kidnapping case and more. We will consider why trials have always captured the public imagination and whether, when they do, constitutional values are sacrificed. Ultimately, this talk seeks to resolve the tension between free speech and fair trial embedded in the U.S. Constitution.