The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas on February 20, 1968 · Page 6
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The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas · Page 6

Blytheville, Arkansas
Issue Date:
Tuesday, February 20, 1968
Page 6
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P»ff Twa?t - Blylhtvlllt (Art.) Courier Kewg - Tu«d«y, Ftbru»iy », H» Does ^Wayward Press' Poison Juror's Mind? (Second of a scries.) By UOGEK DOUGHTY NBA Slaff Correspondent NEW YORK - (NEA) Those who oppose the Roardon Reporl are iond of quoting former U. S. Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark, who once said, "The criminal law has readied such a degrading stage that good lawyers shun it." Those who favor (he proposals point to men like Edward Bennett Williams in order lo refute Justice Clark's generalization. "Frankly," says good lawyer Williams, "I haven't read the Beardon Report, but I have some definite ideas about the relationship of the press and the bar." Supporters of the Reardon Rein fact, Williams who has de- P°rl cite several cases where fended such luminaries as the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, Jim my Hoffa, Adam Clayton Powel and Bobby Baker, has written a book on the subject. In the book, titled "One Man's Freedom," Williams essentially sums up the case for the lawyers who back the report he Jurnself has not read. "If our system Is to continue to use trial by jury," writes Williams, "the minds of the jurors must be kept free from outside influences. A chemist would not make a test wi test tubes contaminated b the actions of the press have resulted in overturned murder convictions. The Sam Sheppard case is one example. Williams notes the case of Leslie Irvin, overturned by the Supreme Court in 1961. ".Irvin," writes Williams "was arrested near Evansville, Ind., on April 8, 1955. Soon afterward the prosecutor in that county and the Evansville po- ice issued press releases slat waste materials. The minds o the jurors are the test lubes o the judicial system. They mus be kept clean of extraneous ma tcr if justice is to be done That's why civilized society re moved trials from the marke place, surrounded them wit safeguards and brought them under the most careful judicia scrutiny. Justice requires tha jurors make their decisions sole ly on the facts properly pre sented to them. Ways must be found to biock those wlio wouic put before them material which does not belong there. Only then can we guarantee the constitutional right to a fair trial." Or, as professor David L. Shapiro of the Harvard Law School and the reporter for the American Bar Association's Advisory Committee on Fair Trial and Free Press puls it, "Dissemination of pretrial information has posed a threat from the time of Aaron Burr to that of Richard Speck. Just how much damage lias been caused by ill- ing that he had confessed to six murders which had occurred in the Evansville area. Newspapers headlined the story and radio and television stations carried extensive newscasts about it. In the following days, more news stories were written about Irvin. These revealed the details of his life, including accounts of the crimes he had committed when he was a juvenile 20 years before the crime in question was perpetrated. Headlines announced that le had been identified in a po- ice line-up, that he had faced a lie-detector test, that he had ieen placed at (he scene of he crime. Other stories said lie ad confessed to 24 burglaries, timed personal opinions is impossible to guess." nd one story related the prom, se of the sheriff to devote his fe (o securing Irvin's convic- on. Ho was described as a confessed slayer of six' and ic 'mad dog killer.' " The publicity in (he Irvin case esulted in 2C8 of 430 prospec- ve jurors saying they had al- ady'inade up their minds Irn was guilty. Irvin was convicted and sentenced to death but the Supreme Court overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial, noting that two-thirds of the prospective jurors polled before the trial admitted (hey already believed lr- vin was guilty. As Justice Paul C. Reardon of the Massachusetts Supreme Court and author of the Reardon Report observes, "There is a large number of cases in which substantial danger of an unfair trial is crealed because potentially prejudiced information has reached the eyes and ears of Ihe triers of fact." If the ABA approves the rcc- ommendalions of the report, the court will be in a position to make it tough on newsmen who violate the rules. In a speech lo the University of San Diego Law School Jus- lice Reardon made it clear that he's in favor of restricting lawyers and police from disclosure of an accused's prior criminal record, the existence and contents of any confessions, failure of the accused to make any statement, the performance of any tests and examinations, information surrounding prospective witnesses, the possibility of a guilty plea by the accused, and the defendant's guilt or innocence, or other matters relating to the merits of the case. As for the "wayward press," Reardon stated, "we also recommend a limited use of the contempt power against a person who, knowing that a criminal trial by jury is in progress or that a jury is being selected, disseminates information rela- livc to the defendant or the issues of the case that goes beyond the public record of the court if the statement is reasonably calculated to affect tin, outcome of the trial and ser iously threatens to have such an effect, or makes such a state ment with the expectation that it will be so disseminated, 01 against a person who knowingly violates a valid judicial order not to disseminate until t h e trial's completion or other disposition of (he case certain spe- ificd information." What about the public's right lo know? "The public has the right to know the truth," says Reardon. 'However, this righl does not extend to irresponsible reporting, to prejudicial statements by prosecutors and police, or to hcrcsay or rumor." "The press," says one New York lawyer, "is crying be- cause the reporter and his editor won't have the final say as to what (he people will know aboul a crime. Well, Ihe reporters and the editors had lhat responsibility for years and they proved Ihey couldn't handle it." (NEXT: Those Opposed.) WARNING ORDER IN THE CHANCERY COURT, CH1CKASAWBA DISTRICT, MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, ARKANSAS Everett Dean Waggoner, plaintiff ,„., vs - . No. 17525 Wilma June Waggoner, defendant The defendant, Wilma June TRIAL LAWYER Edward Bennett Williams believes juries must be shir-H^ "extraneous matter" if justice is to be done and trial by jury To continue Waggoner, is hereby warned to appear within thirty days in the court named in the caption hereof and answer the complaint of the plaintiff, Everett Dean Waggoner. . . Dated this 12th day of February, 1968, at 2:00 o'clock P.M.. Ed B. Cook, Atty. Percy A. Wright, Atty. Ad Litem GERALDINE LISTON, Clerk. By Betty Coats, D. 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