Are the Rights of the Accused Being Diminished by a Weak Judiciary Through the Mob Mentality of Protesting and Petition Signing on the Likes of Facebook and other Social Media Sites?
There are very few judicial actions, other than criminal trials, that stir the social media crowds. Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and local newspaper blogs are froth with petitions to “bring” justice to the accused, when certain special interest groups get involved in the criminal process. Over the past eight to ten years, the courts have seen an increase in petitions signed by online “registrants or guests” to bring swift and exact justice, against citizens charged with committing certain criminal acts that their group believes is so repulsive that Due Process of Law should take a side step to the protestors demands. But what does the U.S. and Florida Constitutions have to say about these issues?
The issues of protesting and petitions in the criminal justice arenas are not new, but this form of speech has become more popular than ever before in America’s history, because of the invention of Social Media. But when you balance the Constitutional Rights of the Accused versus the protestor’s rights, the Due Process Rights of the Accused take precedent and the protestors have to take a back seat, according to the Constitutional Principles we live by.
There is very little court guidance on the matters of protesting and petitioning the courts, as to ostracizing the accused or requesting that the criminal court sentence an accused to a prison sentence wherein the accused will never again see the light of day. The court opinions, however, that have been written have always found in favor of the accused. This should not shock any literate American, because the specific language in the U.S. Constitution and Florida Constitution protects those accused of a crime or criminal act as set out in the words themselves. The Constitution, on the other hand, does not provide a hanging platform for the protestors or petitioners of Facebook, Twitter or other Social Media platforms.
The problem with the judiciary, and today’s judges, is that they either view social media as outside the constitutional norms or are just weak and give in to the pressures of the “electing public” who appear to them in the form of protestors and picketers. Trial judges are too often shelving the due process rights of the accused in favor of the phantom rights of the protestors and picketers. Many times, trial court judges will do what is needed to get re-elected and to be seen as strong opponents, against crimes and the accused, in the society where they reside in taking their first step on their journey to re-election. The remedy to the accused of a weak trial court sits properly in the Appellate Courts, where more often than not, the Appellate Judge’s do not succumb to the pressures of Social Media, as most are wiser and have more judicial appetite for the accused than the trial courts.
As a matter of law, there can be no question that a State has a legitimate interest in protecting its judicial system from the pressures which picketing near a courthouse might create and petitions may stir. This reasoning comes from the American principle and maxim that we are a Country committed to a government of laws and not of men; it is of the utmost importance that the administration of justice be absolutely fair and orderly. The Appellate courts through their opinions have continuously reasoned that the unhindered and untrammeled functioning of our courts is part of the very foundation of our constitutional democracy. When this principle of democracy is stepped on through protestors and online petitioners, the Appellate courts have stood firm and stood their ground that such actions of those protestors and petitioners will not be tolerated or withstand judicial scrutiny.
Our U.S. Supreme Court has reasoned, and rightfully so, that the constitutional safeguards relating to the integrity of the criminal process attend every stage of a criminal proceeding, starting with arrest and culminating with a trial ‘in a courtroom presided over by a judge.’ This stern warning to trial courts and their prospective judge’s has lost it echo in many courtroom through the State of Florida. Protestors and petitioners in recent years, in hot bed cases that involve issues of race or animals, have been allowed to make a circus out of the criminal justice proceedings and this has been to the detriment of the accused and our societal democracy as a whole, because when one of us in society loses a right to a fair trial, we have all lost the right to Due Process of Law. There can be no doubt that we all lose and the constitution suffers great loss, when trial judges do not embrace the fundamental conception of a fair trial, which occurs when protestors and petitioners are allowed to influence the process in any way from arrest to pronouncement of sentence. There is no room at any stage of judicial proceedings for such intervention; mob law is the very antithesis of due process. It shall not stand.
If you or a loved one has been arrested hire an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney who stands with the accused and protects their rights to a fair trial. Experienced West Palm Beach Criminal Attorney, Andrew D. Stine, has trial experience in hostile cases with protestors present inside and outside the courtrooms of Florida. Highly successful and experienced in Criminal Trials, West Palm Beach Criminal Trial Lawyer Andrew D. Stine will fight for you and stand shoulder to shoulder with you, when you are looking at an arrest, indictment, criminal prosecution or are in need of appellate advice and work. He can guide you through every step of the criminal process. Hire Stine or do the Time!