Defendants Pleading Their Cases On The Internet


A few days after Illinois authorities accused Kevin Fox of murdering his daughter, his family members created a Web site with Fox’s claim of innocence and a collection of family snapshots. They added a copy of Fox’s wrongful-arrest lawsuit, selected news articles, and an e-mail link for tips to catch “the real murderer,” the Chicago Tribune reports. Fox’s brother, Chad, almost 200,000 hits later, reported “a shift in public perception, really due to the Web site. We’ve been able to post our side of the story to combat all the negative publicity that has been put out there against our family.”

Defendants are increasingly using the Internet–from simple discussion groups to ultra-slick multimedia shows–in an attempt to influence the public, the media, and even potential jurors. Martha Stewart mounted a site within a day of her 2003 indictment for stock fraud, updating it frequently with terse statements from her lawyers and flowery notes from her fans. Some prosecutors say they’re unruffled by pro-defendant Web pages. “The thing that matters is the evidence. [A site] is something they do to make themselves feel better,” said Will County,Il., prosecutor Phil Mock, who is handling the Kevin Fox case.


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