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Washington and Lee University    
  Nov 22, 2017
2017-2018 University Catalog
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JOUR 303 - Covering Great Trials in History: The Impact of the Press and Public on Justice

Credits: 4

From the Salem Witch Trials and the Lindbergh Baby kidnapping to the Charles Manson Family and O.J. Simpson, Americans have long been fascinated by crime and punishment. Rich or poor, admired or scorned, defendants in high-profile trials captivate the public because they illuminate our potential for good and evil by revealing our hopes, dreams, and fears at a particular time in history. Often in dramatic fashion, trials expose society's weaknesses by dissecting the violent tendencies and obsessions of the people we thought were worthy of our respect or our fear. But does this obsession with the law serve the greater good? Are prosecutors playing on the public's fears? Are judges doing enough to ensure fair trials? Are defense attorneys serving their clients, or themselves? Does the press, in sensational, simplistic coverage, do more harm than good? And is the public becoming disillusioned with the American legal system? This course examines these issues by placing great trials in their context in history and exploring the complexities of the conflict between the freedom of the press and the ideal of a fair trial. Locy.

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