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THE DEFENSE NEVER RESTS
December 28th, 2009
Hollywood is likely the greatest source of misinformation regarding law. Then again the job of the entertainment industry is to entertain and not to inform. Bland recital of information is not entertaining - grand stories and shocking revelations are entertaining. The image of a defendant's lawyer getting the defendant off on some minor issue stirs us and makes for interesting television.
Our job as the public and the media is to discern what is fact and what is fiction. Seeing is not believing. Characterizations must be taken as that - characterizations - spins on reality and not the truth. Responsible media outlets need to know this and know the difference. Though it seems that responsibility in reporting is giving way to ratings, a person can still dream.
In the law there is no such thing as a technicality. In gross irony what the media and Hollywood usually refer to as a "technicality" are Constitutional rules of application. If the Fourth or Fifth Amendment of the United States is unimportant and merely red tape in our bureaucracy then technicality is the appropriate term. If the Constitution has any meaning and force these rules have consequences. Using verbiage for shock value to draw viewers to networks or make a movie more interesting must be seen for what it is.
How important is the Constitution of the United States? Its more important than the law you cant jaywalk. Its more important than the law against armed robbery right? If an enemy of the US could do anything wouldn't they destroy the Constitution? If we agree that the Constitution is a law more important than the law against murder, rape, injuring a child with your car or a product you sell than we would also agree that the Constitution should be protected. In protecting the Constitution violating it of course then carries consequences.
If someone robs you they go to jail. If someone hits you with their car and its their fault they have to pay to fix your car and any injuries they did to you right? Seems fair. Thats our law. What is the consequence if you violate the law found in the Constitution? It would seem it would be on par with the laws I just mentioned. But it is not. In fact, proving and being made whole on a Constitutional violation is one of the most difficult cases one can bring.
Many Constitutional violations have no redress. In other words the government can violate your rights and you have no recourse against the Government for that violation. In some cases you can sue but Hollywood unfortunately has persuaded our Courts and the laws have become very tough in recovering. On the same note in criminal cases the cost of violating the Constitution is some form of punishment to the prosecution/police for breaking the law. You cant sue the prosecution and suing the police is very difficult. So the only 'real' protection is the judge in your criminal case recognizing the importance of the Constitution. Denouncing the cost of upholding Constitutional principles is tantamount to flag burning.
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