Media Critic’s Suggestion: Publish Charges to Juries In Complex Cases


Media critic Mark Obbie faults the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle for not explaining what was behind decisions by Rochester juries to spare two intoxicated and unlicensed drivers from the most serious charges for causing the death of a bicyclist. “Nowhere does a reader learn what defines each of these charges, in general or in this case. We the readers are simply left to ask ourselves, in effect, did these two act so irresponsibly that they should be punished a lot or a little? And when we the readers decide “a lot” is the right answer, we're left to fume about the judicial system's failings, the idiocy of the jury and prosecutor, and the unfairness of life,” Obbie says. He suggests that most of the problem would have been alleviated if the newspaper had published the judge’s charge to the jurors to understand what they were asked to decide.

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