The Daily Gamecock

Debate spotlights recent court cases

Students discuss “The U.S. Justice System: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

More than 40 people attended the discussion, sponsored by the Zeta Epsilon chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, the Zeta Theta chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The purpose of the meeting was to present facts and discuss the justices and injustices of the court system as they were highlighted by these three recent cases. Attendees offered a mix of both positive and negative opinions about how each trial was handled. There was a general sentiment of acceptance of a justice system that cannot help but be flawed.

One attendee at the discussion acknowledged that feeling, conceding that "no one is ever going to come up with a perfect justice system."

Though the discussion touched lightly on the Anderson case and the question of whether one can or should be guilty by association with a crime, the bulk of the meeting focused on issues concerning the Anthony and Davis trials. Speakers turned attendees' attention to the role of media in shaping and voicing public opinion about the cases.

Those in attendance commented on the way news organizations reported information that was not made available to jurors in the Anthony trial this summer and allowed bias to influence their coverage.

The discussion later focused on the role of social media sites in raising awareness and voicing opinions of Davis' case leading up to his September execution. Several attendees expressed annoyance at the sudden emergence of bandwagon support for and opposition to clemency for Davis from people who had no prior knowledge of the 20-year-old case.

One speaker described "a lot of ignorance floating around" in the public sentiment surrounding the trial.

Attendees also commented on the responsibilities of prosecutors and defenders in the Anthony and Davis cases and the general public's grasp of the facts and workings of the court system. The discussion raised questions about whether the Anthony prosecutors might have had a more successful case if they had sought a different charge and whether Davis' appeal was properly handled.

One common theme that permeated the discussion was that many of the public's misguided opinions of these cases stem from a lack of general understanding of the justice system.

As another speaker explained, "When people are unaware of how our judicial system works, it's hard to give an educated opinion."