Can’t Televise the Trial? Use Puppets!

This is simply fabulous.

Among the most interesting and, perhaps, entertaining aspects of the corruption trial of former Cuyahoga County Commissioner and County Democratic Party boss Jimmy Dimora, is its treatment by the media.

By far, most of the Cleveland-based news organizations following the trial — The Plain Dealer, all four television stations, and some radio stations — follow as any spectator would: inside the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi at the Seiberling Federal Building in Akron.

Lioi has adopted the anti-Judge Ito (my term, in honor of O.J. Simpson presiding criminal trial Judge Lance Itoview of managing the reporters covering the People v Jimmy Dimora.  An excellent aggregation of the Plain Dealer’s coverage of the case can be found here.  This includes the time-honored federal court restriction against microphones and cameras in the courtroom. Reporters take notes then share what transpired during breaks in the testimony, which at times has been lurid. Testimony includes wiretapped phone conversations and video that includes now-famous trips to Las Vegas for gambling binges allegedly underwritten by a contractor as well as engagements with prostitutes.

The ban on electronic media in federal court isn’t new, but what’s unusual how one local station, Raycom’sWOIO-TV, decided to handle its presentation.

19ActionNews decided against a courtroom artist and the ethically dubious use of actors to re-create testimony. Instead, WOIO opted for the Puppet Trial.

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Casey Anthony Trial: The Hits Just Keep Comin’

A bad trial with a disliked outcome produces a legislative overreach of titanic proportions:

Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, on Thursday filed a bill that would call for a nine-month “cooling off” period after jurors are dismissed before they could consider accepting money for sharing details about a trial.

The moves comes just days before Casey Anthony is released from jail after a jury last week found her not guilty in the murder of her child.

Randolph’s Juror Compensation Bill, HB 51, would make violations of the law a third-degree felony punishable by fines of up to $10,000.

Concerns are that the prospect of being paid to discuss a trial might influence a jury’s thinking during the case.

“The purpose of this legislation is to preserve the integrity of the jury process,” Randolph said in a prepared statement. “It balances the First Amendment freedom of speech with the Sixth Amendment guarantee to a fair trial. The United States Supreme Court has always held that the preservation of a fair trial must be maintained at all costs. I believe that means fairness for the state as well as the defendant.”

Randolph said he will also file legislation that would keep the names of jurors private, unless individuals choose to come forward.

So….that nine month “cooling off period” might be more aptly named the “secrecy period” or “total and utter secrecy period,” in all trials in Florida, regardless of media attention of fact pattern, forever and ever. Nice, Rep. Randolph. You got your name in the paper. Now can you go come up with a way to ensure that juries are operating properly in the absence of even the possibility that there might be a scintilla of accountability?