How Pretrial Publicity May Affect A Personal Injury Trial
Is your personal injury case being discussed online, in newspapers or television? Pretrial publicity can affect your case either negatively or positively. For example, discussions outside the courtroom can influence your case by:
One thing about pretrial publicity is that it may give the general public information that may be connected, not relevant, to the case. Don't forget that it is the same public members that will be picked to form a jury. Such information may lead to jury bias. For example, the local newspapers may highlight your profile, interaction with neighbors, and general standing in the community. This may or may not be bad for your case depending on the information that is released.
People can be very emotional, and emotions cloud judgment. If there is a lot of publicity surrounding your case, then it is possible it will be discussed in newspapers, television interviews and even among patrons of local bars. Some publicity can generate lots of sympathies either for you or the defendant.
Consider a situation in which you slip and fall in a store owned by a local single parent. Also, suppose that the store owner did not have adequate insurance coverage, but has substantial assets to pay for your injuries. A local newspaper article can paint the defendant as a loving single parent who was just trying to provide for his or her child. If the story is picked up by other media outlets, it can garner so much publicity that everybody feels that you should back down and let him or her be.
Exposing Jurors to Inadmissible Evidence
Another serious effect of pretrial publicity is that it may expose the jurors or judge to inadmissible evidence. For example, a police report, which is usually inadmissible in court, may find its way into the public domain and sway (consciously or otherwise) the juror's mind one way or the other. The problem is that once evidence is released, you can't gauge or block its effect on the jurors' or judge's thoughts, even if the law says the evidence were obtained illegally.
As you can see, pretrial publicity may have a big influence in your case. Depending on your claims worth, it might be a good idea to ask an attorney from a firm like Kaston & Aberle for public relations assistance. In worst case scenario, the lawyer may even be forced to seek change of venue on the basis of a tainted jury pool.